Saturday, September 27, 2008

Chaos Theory. by Patresa Hartman

Today, while dressing for the treadmill at the gym, I heard a newscastor on CNN say that the economy discussions and the Presidential debates will yield consequences for "every man, woman, and child on the planet."

That's a pretty big deal. That's an umbrella of a deal, a mushroom cloud of a deal.

Everything feels big big big in this global, political climate. The newspaper is enormous and should weigh 1000 pounds with the weight of the stories it tells. TV news broadcasts life-size through a pixilated screen. I don't think my eyes or my brain are spacious enough to handle all of this giganticness; I watch with only one eye open. My skeletal frame is not designed for world weights.

And so I feel it is no coincidence that I have been noticing butterflies everywhere.

It is September, and the year's last generation of monarchs are migrating south. The last of spring and summer, this population is tasked with the trek to warmer weather to mate and lay more eggs. Preparing for their journies, they flutter across roads, spiral through parking lots, bob zigzag in the backyard. And they are beautiful.

I have developed a new habit of thanking every butterfly I see. I thank winged lovelies for all they add to the world. By this, I refer only peripherally to the butterfly effect in chaos theory. And I refer only marginally to the idea of metamorphosis and breaking free from tightly wound cocoons. These are charming details about the butterfly, but what I find most intriguing is that it lasts in butterfly form for as little as fourteen days. This intricately painted winged insect -- such marked grace, peace, and beauty -- occupies only the tiniest of space in the physical and chronological world. (If I had more space, I would suggest our human world is no larger when you boil it down to proportions.)

How can this small creature carry such large significance? While the rest of the world talks bailouts and international economy -- while two men debate for the role of next world leader -- why do I concern myself with insects in the driveway?

It is no trivial concern to be grateful for butterflies in September. They bring me focus -- a reminder to zoom lens into tiny glimpses of loveliness in a world so weighted by conflict.


Angie Ledbetter said...

A+ post, Patresa. Loved this and the thought that a small flapping of our own wings can change the entire planetary landscape. *PS, many people associate the appearance of butterflies with the Virgin Mary.* Comforting news in these times. ;)

Kathryn Magendie said...

What an insightful, lovely post...."my" butterflies come late spring or early summer - the ones that gather at the bottom of my driveway and lie there, die there, whatever it is they do there...they hover and fly and are beautiful and ...and fourteen days, Huh? Perspective is a funny thing.

Barbara Quinn said...

Enjoyed this post much...It's good to slow down and watch those beautiful butterflies. They keep on with their lives regardless of the chaos and there's a calming lesson there.

Ami said...

Beautiful post, P. No matter when or where I am, butterflies always make me smile. Their beauty and grace and ability to change and evolve within their short lifespan are all qualities I admire.

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