(This poet recently met a man of nearly the exact description below. While a mind undefeated in the production of a flawless Elizabethan sonnet upon the subject of any inquirer’s preference — within ten to fifteen minutes of request — can be considered neither disorderly nor undisciplined, nonetheless poets are in many ways quite a lot like butterflies, and so the acquaintance was necessarily short lived.)
Once there was a man who loved the beauty of butterflies but disliked their disorder. “Why do they have to flit about without a pattern,” he would ask anyone who’d listen. And, because he did not like the unpredictable, he was mostly talking to himself because, his need for order and discipline pushed the ones who loved him away.
One day, the man who loved butterflies’ beauty but disliked their disorder decided he would teach them how to fly in formation. “Yes!” he cried to the sky. He had to close his eyes to the clouds floating by. They were so very disorganized he wished he could paint the sky and teach the clouds to form orderly patterns too. But first, he had to teach the butterflies how to fly. “I will tame them and teach them not to fly so free!”
He tried everything.
Scents deposited only on certain flowers.
Webbing that held the butterflies within a flight path of his design.
Sticky goop on flowers meant to entice the butterflies to land and at least stay in formation on the flowers.
It was the goop that was his undoing, and the end of many butterflies too.
One morning he came outside and saw all the butterflies lying in random, flightless beauty on the flowers. Furious that they had defied him again, he lost his temper, stormed into his garage, which was very neat and tidy, got on his ride-em’ mower and headed out to the garden. With meticulous care, making sure each pass of the mower was straight and even, he mowed down all the flowers. He mowed and mowed never once stopping to smell the roses until all that was left was a scrub of green where once a beautiful garden full of flitting butterflies had thrived.
And as he mowed, the butterflies struggled to gain release from the sticky goop that held them in place. Most were unsuccessful and fell beneath the man’s destructive passes of the lawn mower.
After several hours, the man stopped mowing. His work was done. Sitting atop his mower, sweat dripping off his brow, he surveyed his handiwork and yelled, even though there was no one around, “Take that you disobedient, chaotic butterflies. Take that!”
And he turned his mower around and headed back to the garage.
Just then, a butterfly went flitting by. He swatted at it but it easily avoided his hand. And then, there was another and another flitting about randomly on the soft, gentle breeze of the morning. He watched, the anger growing inside his heart with every butterfly that flitted past.
“No!” he screamed at the flock of butterflies who danced in the morning light. “Get out! Get out!”
The butterflies, oblivious to his entreaties, kept frolicking in the sun.
The man, consumed with rage at their disorderly conduct, flew into a fury. He jumped off his ride-em’ mower and began to chase the butterflies, darting this way and that, in totally disordered conduct, in a vain attempt to catch them or at least send them away.
But the butterflies flew just beyond his reach as if laughing at his chaotic antics.
Suddenly, realizing he was racing about his garden putting footprints all over the grass without any thought for pattern or symmetry, the man stopped leaping after the butterflies and walked slowly back into his house.
Slamming the door shut behind him, he shut out the beautiful morning and began his normal disciplined pattern through his day.
And that is where he remains today. Safe behind closed doors, living his orderly and disciplined life without any interference from the world outside, especially butterflies who fly free.
I have no idea where this story came from. It just wrote itself in my head as I lay in the space between awake and dreaming.
It is what I appreciate about the muse the most. She doesn’t wait for an invitation. She arrives in glorious, random swoops of inspiration, darting hither and fro like a butterfly, inviting me to let go of orderly thinking and fall with joyful abandon into creative expression.
And sometimes, to keep her flowing, I must capture the ideas and give them words to remember them by.
What to do with them next is all part of the wonderful mystery that is creativity.
Via Dare Boldly
The poet/editor of this website is physically disabled, and lives at a fraction of her nation’s poverty level. Contributions may be made at: https://www.gofundme.com/are-you-a-patron-of-the-arts