The Butterfly and Me

Outside my window, I sometimes watch as vehicles whiz by in both directions, drivers of which with their destinations on their mind, are oblivious to some of the tiny creatures with which we share our space. On one particular day, as I gazed from my window, the tiny flutter of wings in the middle of the street caught my eye. As I looked closer, I observed a beautiful yellow and black butterfly sitting in the turn lane of the street. Traffic flowed on either side dangerously close to the place where the butterfly rested. Or at least at first, I believed it was just resting. My first thought was surely it will fly away. Any minute now, it will fly away, before a car comes speeding by and makes today the last time it is part of our world. But nothing happens. It continues to sit there. The wind from the passing vehicles blows it around, but it makes no attempt to fly other than a faint fluttering of its wings once in a while. I am hypnotized at this point. I can't take my eyes off the innocent little butterfly that is so close to danger. It ventures over on the yellow line that separates the turn lane. As I hold my breath, I say, "Fly little fellow, please fly!" Nothing happens. In the meantime, the telephone rings, and I must answer, but I still continue to watch. By this time, the butterfly has moved back over into the middle of the turn lane. I catch my breath as cars pulling into the turn lane run right over the top of the butterfly. Somehow, it remains untouched. I need to run out and rescue the butterfly before it's too late, but again the telephone rings. While I'm on the phone, I look up, and to my horror, I see a heavily loaded log truck approaching. In my mind, I scream to the truck driver, "Look out! Please don't run over the butterfly!" The wind from the truck picks the butterfly up and takes it down the street, almost out of my view. By now, I've decided that the butterfly has to be injured and that's why it's in the middle of the street to begin with. I can't stand it another minute. I find something I can place the butterfly on, and hastily run out into the street and pick it up. But I can't believe what I find. It's too late. The butterfly is dead, even though it is perfectly in tact, the only damage visible was a small tear in one wing. I am mad at myself. If only I had acted sooner, I might have saved the butterfly. I know when it caught my eye, there was some life left in it. The wings fluttered a little and it tried to fly, but probably whatever injuries it sustained, were just too much. My initial thought was that if I could get to the butterfly before something happened to it, and even if it were injured, the least I could do would be to place in the flower bed outside my window where it could remain and not be squashed by a car. The flower bed did become it's final resting place, although I had hoped otherwise.

Life is sometimes like my watching the butterfly that day. We don't act on our impulses until it's too late, and then we're sorry we didn't do something sooner. I remember back to a time when I got a message from the wife of a shut in couple asking that my sister and I come for a visit when we had time. Somehow I never found the time, and the wife of that dear sweet couple passed away. I'll always regret that we didn't go for that visit. Our lives are too busy and filled with things we think are necessary. We just don't want to be bothered. We have much more important things to see to. But do we really? Since the death of the dear person who sent me word requesting that I visit, Iíve tried to sort out whatís really important and needs to be given more attention, but itís so easy to lapse back into old habits that allow us to make excuses for not doing something as simple as making time for a visit that would brighten someone elseís day. The attempt to rescue the injured butterfly was a reminder that my priorities were not where they should be. Life should not be about me, me, me. I read an good illustration of how we often look at life, and in the end, it turns out not to be as we thought it was after all. It reads as follows:

One day an expert in time management was speaking to a group of business people, and in an effort to get his point across, used an illustration that hopefully would remain in the minds of those he was speaking to. As he stood in front of the group he said, "Okay, time for a quiz." He then placed a wide mouthed, one gallon size Mason jar on the table in front of him. Next, he took out about a dozen fist sized rocks from a box and place them very carefully, one at a time, into the jar. When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit in, he asked, "Is the jar full?" Everyone in the class said, "Yes." He replied, "Really?" He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. He slowly poured the gravel into the jar and gently shook it, causing the gravel to work down into the spaces between the big rocks. Then he asked the group once more, "Is the jar full?" By this time, the class had caught on to him. "Probably not," one of the group answered. "Good!" he replied. He reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started pouring the sand in the jar and it went into all the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel. Once more he asked the question, "Is the jar full?" "No!" shouted those attending. Once again he said, "Good!" Then he took a pitcher of water and began to pour it until the jar was filled to the brim and asked, "What is the point of this illustration?" One eager person attending raised her hand and said, "The point is no matter how full your life is, if you try really hard, you can always fits some more things in." "Good answer, but no," the speaker replied, "thatís not my point. The truth this illustration teaches us is: If you donít put the big rocks in first, youíll never get them in at all. We must each decide what the "big rocks" in your life should be. They can be your children, your spouse, your loved ones, an education, your dreams, worthy causes, teaching or mentoring others, doing things that we love, time for ourselves, or our health. But remember to put these "big rocks" in first or youíll never get them in at all. If your sweat the little stuff, then youíll fill your life with little things to worry about that really donít matter, and youíll never have the real quality time you need to spend on the big, important things that really matter most in life. But you alone have to decide what that is."

A UPS driver once drew my attention to the fact that I can be in that number that sweat the small stuff. That particular company has a computerized clip board that the person receiving a delivery from them must sign. I very much dislike this contraption, and was complaining bitterly to the driver about how try and I may, my signature always ended up looking like a kindergarten studentís handwriting after I finished signing. His reply really set me straight when he said, "Lady, I donít know why you making such a big deal about signing your name on this. If you donít want to sign your name, just make a big X, you get your delivery, and Iíll be on my way." I couldnít help but laugh. He had no idea that he had just summed up my reaction to most problems I sometimes encounter. Iím very apt to make a big fuss over what turns out to be nothing. There have been countless times since then Iíve reminded myself of the UPS fellowís words.

What does matter most in life? Some good examples I came across include living honestly with yourself and others; appreciating and being thankful for what you have; helping others; being positive rather than negative; being part of a solution rather than part of a problem; working to leave this world a little better than you found it. When you remember whatís most important, it makes life seem relatively simple.