Creative Writing

A Butterfly Told Me

“Wherever you are, be all there.” ~ Jim Elliot

I know I’ll never ride again. I’ve known for a few years now. Accepting it has been another thing entirely and I’m not sure I ever will—completely.

The aftermath of a life changing accident hasn’t been pretty.  There have been far too many ‘poor-me’ moments and more sanity-challenging bitterness and negativity than I even want to think about.  I’m just coming out of a down spell at the moment triggered by a the flare-up of a condition caused by that accident.

So what has this got to do with writing?

As mentioned in an earlier post I’ve been working my way through The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron which has helped me see and rationalise, even though I should know this already, that the effects of negativity can be absolutely devastating to creativity.

Some fortunate souls are able to turn in into creative energy. I’m not one of them. I can’t compartmentalise negativity. I can’t shut it up in a spare room to work itself out. It spills and oozes into everything and once there sets like quick-drying cement.  Its effect is devastating. I don’t read, I don’t write, I don’t work on fibre arts, I don’t think. I’m just stuck in cement-coated stasis of miserable navel-gazing negativity.

I took this photograph in my garden this afternoon. Our Buddleia is a little tatty after the strong winds at the weekend but the butterflies didn’t seem to mind. It was absolutely covered in them. There was one particular butterfly, a beautiful Peacock, which was missing about a third of a wing. It was feeding quite happily in amongst its more able-bodies cousins.  It could still fly, albeit a little crookedly and without the grace of some of the others and it was completely engrossed in the imperative of the moment on a warm summer afternoon.

Living in the present is not and honestly never has been one of my stronger characteristics. A lot of my life has been spent facing forwards, looking backwards.  I seem to be forever cursed to ask what if..? I am the worrier, the planner, the over-thinker; the doubter. I am the prevaricator extraordinaire.

I know there’s always a strong argument never to anthropomorphise animals and I guess that applies to insects, but I’m going to anyway. I was struck quite forcibly that this little butterfly doesn’t worry about yesterday, doesn’t worry about that ragged gap in its wing and I’m pretty sure it doesn’t worry about tomorrow. It doesn’t waste a moment of that precious though incredibly short lifespan. It has no baggage, no hang-ups, no regrets.  It is completely present, caught up in the moment by moment compulsion to feed and survive and it just damned well gets on with it.

Lessons can come in many guises, this one for me, from a butterfly.

  • Mourning what I’ve lost won’t fix it.
  • Celebrating what I had and what I was able to do, even though for a far shorter time than I ever anticipated is a healthier and more positive outcome.
  • Living in the moment of now is all I have; yesterday is gone, I don’t yet have tomorrow and then only by the grace of God.
  • Creativity is a gift; I can waste it by prevarication, gloom and doom-mongering and worrying or I can get over myself, stop worrying about my inadequacies and just get on with living in the moment preferably sans the luggage of negativity.

Categories: Creative Writing, Writing