Inside a Writer's Mind

Inside a Writer's Mind
“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” -- Oscar Wilde

Monday, 7 May 2012

A Symbol of Life

This is probably going to read like the musings of a madman, but I'm going to write it anyway.

On my way to the library this morning my eye was drawn to something coin-sized and colourful lying in the road. From a distance it reminded me of an opal broach my grandmother used to wear when I was a child. I waited for the traffic to pass and walked over to check it out.

As I drew closer it looked like a small cluster of ebony rose petals. Blackened blotches streaked with swishes of vivid red and blue.

But it wasn't flower petals.

It was a butterfly.

At first I thought it was dead. But then I saw its legs move. And I picked it up and carried it to the footpath. For a moment I hoped it might have just been stunned. But on closer inspection I realised it was badly injured.

I felt a sense of real sadness looking at this beautiful creature dying in the palm of my hand. And I was torn as to what to do with it.

In the end I thought it best to put it out of its misery.

But afterwards, I felt a stinging sense of grief, which seemed out of all proportion in response to a dead insect. To a butterfly dying in the street...

And then it struck me that this butterfly, so often the symbol of life and how fleeting it is, was significant in many ways. Not the least of which to remind me that all life is like that.

Fragile. Impermanent. Interconnected.

If you found this worth reading, please share. Thank you.

And, if you enjoyed this, you might enjoy my novel: Seventeen Summers. It's free!


  1. This was a wonderful act of compassion...nothing 'mad' at all about this. If fact, I would say that the 'madness' would be those who would choose to ignore it completely.
    I came across a term on the weekend, 'quantum connection'. It stuck with me and got me thinking. You and the butterfly had this connection, I'd say. And you communicated with eachother.

  2. Thanks for the kind words Jim. I'm not familiar with the term 'quantum connection', I'll have to do some reading.

  3. Beautifully written, and I do know exactly how you feel. I collect butterfly wing pictures. I have done ever since my grandmother gave me the first picture when I was 12. Back then it wasn't frowned upon quite the same way as it is now.

    1. Thank you for your positive feedback Kay. I appreciate it.

      It’s interesting how much our interactions as children with grandparents or other adult relatives influence us. My grandfather used to recite poetry; I think he was one of my earliest influences in terms of becoming interested in language.

      I also think your practice of collecting pictures of butterfly wings is one of the most beautiful hobbies I've heard of. Well done.

  4. If madmen were as insightful as this this bit of wisdom, our world would be so wonderful that no butterfly would ever die, crushed on the street. This reads like the an entry in the diary of a nature-conscious soul.

    I understand the grief, but take a breath and feel better. Remember the good: that butterfly might be gone, but her mark in your soul (and now mine) will be around forever. Life is a beautiful thing... that end with death. The whole circle is worth embracing and writing about ;-)

    1. I agree with your sentiment Magaly about embracing the whole cycle of life. I‘ve heard the connection between life and death termed the ‘eternal dance’. Which I think is a beautiful, poignant and accurate analogy.

      I'm almost at the end of Joseph Campbell's 'The Hero With A Thousand Faces' and he has some very interesting thoughts on this subject in relation to stories and myths. I’ll just share one:

      ‘The adventure of the hero [or heroine] represents the moment in his [or her] life when he [or she] achieved illumination – the nuclear moment when, while still alive, he found and opened the road to the light beyond the dark walls of our living death.’

      Thank you very much for stopping by and leaving such a lovely and affirming comment. Hope to hear from you again.

  5. It's strange how random objects can take our minds back to precious memories of the past.

    Great to read this.

    1. I agree Liam, thanks very much for stopping by and commenting.

  6. This is a really beautiful post. Very touching.