I don’t know much about Monarch butterflies. But when I discovered fourteen monarch caterpillars munching on my organic milkweed (planted just for them), I instinctively was compelled to protect them. So I joined “The Beautiful Monarch” on Facebook and sought expert guidance. The advice was to bring them indoors and do whatever possible to protect them until they morphed into (hopefully) healthy butterflies. Why would I work so hard to collect bugs from my garden in the middle of my busy schedule? Especially since bugs of any kind generally freak me out, my sudden focus on collecting larvae seems a bit out of the norm.
I just sensed the preciousness of life. I wanted to make a good cause and protect that delicate treasure. So I followed the helpful tips from those who make a habit of saving monarchs, and I eventually watched nine beautiful monarch butterflies emerge from their light green and gold-rimmed chrysalides (one more chrysalis to emerge soon!). In fact, I made a series of short music videos from the experience here:
Though watching five gorgeous, graceful, dainty butterflies emerge in one day and releasing each one was special and fascinating, the seventh butterfly to emerge captured my heart. His body came out somewhat crooked, and when he tried flapping his wings, his whole being shook with a rapid tremor. I coaxed him several times to climb onto my finger so I could release him, but he jumped right back onto the netting I had for his protection. I kept him an extra day, gathered flowers from my garden, and carefully guided him to land on them with hope he’d use that nutrition to strengthen enough to fly away capably.
I prodded him to crawl onto my fingers and opened the netting but he remained stubbornly clinging to me. I waved my hand upward to motivate him to move, but he hung on as if he were a child shyly hanging on to his mother’s skirt. I gently walked across my garden with him on my fingers, and placed him on a purple lantana bloom. He didn’t budge. So, taking the advice of another butterfly rescuer, I gently pinched his closed wings between my thumb and finger, gave him a slight toss into the air, and…He flew away! He flew far, far up into the air, until he was just a speck against the blue sky.
In that moment I was so moved that tears welled up in my eyes. It was so touching to see this creature battle against very difficult odds, and still succeed in spite of them. It inspired me to see this butterfly’s uniqueness in learning this next stage of his life, and then, what appeared to be his courage to fly—even with shaking wings.
Watching this victorious battle made me think of my own inadequacies, flaws, failings, and unfulfilled dreams in a new, hopeful light. How can I make excuses or lack effort toward my best potential after witnessing such a noble fight and flight? This beautiful little crooked boy reminded me how important it is not to give up just because my journey is different, or challenging, or delayed.
In that moment of gloriously fluttering wings, all I could feel in my heart was hope springing back to life. Isn’t life an amazing phenomenon, especially when something as simple as a newly emerged monarch learning to fly teaches you to believe in yourself and your dreams again? If a small monarch’s life is so meaningful, it must be that you and I are equally as valuable. Bearing that in mind, let’s move forward, and upward, no matter how shaky we may feel, with determination to manifest our full potential. Our unique struggles and our journey may even inspire hope in another life-form out there.