“I dreamed I was a butterfly, flying in the sky; then I awoke. Now I wonder, am I a man who dreamt of being a butterfly, or am I a butterfly dreaming that I am a man?” Chuang Tzu
I once had a dream that I was a beautiful spirit. I was free and flitting here and there, everywhere, just experiencing life. I remembered it was a time when I experienced the world as it came to me and through me as mystical, magical and miraculous. I remembered just existing in nature as one with it all. I was a magnificent energy to behold, so colorful and bright, my aura was a hue of electric blue that looked purple in the light of day. I remembered being surrounded by many other equally marvelous spirits, all of us feeling the delight of the wind beneath our wings, just grateful to be alive.
Then one day, my life changed. As I was flying on a path, I saw something rumbling in a dark green bush below. I stopped and flew overhead to see what it was and that is when I met a caterpillar. He was dark and hairy and was inching along the branches of the bush when our eyes met. He looked at me with his dark beady eyes. I said to him in good humor, “Good day my friend.” I asked him rhetorically, “Don’t you just love the magic of the fresh breeze that caresses you and the warmth of the sun that embraces you.” He looked back at me as if I was crazy and said emphatically, “There is no magic here, just the ordinary, dreary experience of my everyday.” Then he continued to chomp away on the already half eaten leaf that he was grabbing onto. Not to believe that one could not appreciate the beauty that stood before me I insisted, “Come with me and see. Come and discover the magic that lies before me and before you!” Almost bored, he told me, “My confused traveler how misinformed you are. The world before you is not as magical and wonderful as you seem to believe.” He continued speaking with a sadness in his voice, “I know the hardship of everyday and the loneliness it holds. I cannot imagine venturing out of what I know on a whim to only find what I already know.”
How could he be so disillusioned? How could he be so wrong? I continued, “Please, if only you knew the world as I saw it then you feel the magic throughout every part of you.” He replied annoyingly, “Stop bothering me with your childish ways. I have no time for your make believe. I am a caterpillar and will become nothing more. I am here to spend my days trudging from place to place, hoping to find enough to eat, praying not to be eaten. Little spirit you need to start seeing reality for what it is, hard and filled with sadness.” And, before he crawled away, he said, “ Surrender to the fact that life is not enjoyable and suffering is inevitable.” As I saw the last of him, while the conversation ended, what he said remained with me.
In shock, I sat myself on the branch of a beautiful sycamore tree and wept tears of sadness, something I never felt before. Could it be true? Was the world a terrible place? Was there only pain and sadness? Was there really no joy? If so, I had to show others that there was another way to experience life. I needed to show them that life was so precious. I had to go and see that this was not the only truth, by giving and receiving love, hope springs anew. However, as I continued to ponder his words, I felt my energy grow dark and I grew more and more distressed. I spun out in a daze and flew here and there in an anxiety-ridden state. Was what he said true? Was the magic of the world only an illusion? Was what I had always known been a mere figment of my imagination? Who was I now and how did I fit into this “other” reality ? I flew around aimlessly for hours and hours until the weight that I now felt brought me down to the ground and I no longer could fly.
As the sun started to set, I woke up a bit and did not recognize where I was. Nothing appeared familiar to me from this new perspective. No longer soaring, I was grounded. And as far as my eye could see, I could not find any fellow spirits. It got darker and darker and I was lost and became more and more distressed as I could not remember what it felt like to be free, I wanted to go home.
Days passed and I became more and more exhausted. I needed sleep, something that was not a necessity before. Then, the fear of the caterpillar overtook me, it started to form roots and I started to lose my hope and my faith in myself. I started to forget the beauty of the world that I had known. I became isolated as I no longer could see the beauty of the gardens, the beauty of the sea, and the beauty of the mountains. And as days turned to nights, and nothing seemed to change, I started to give up trying and resolved myself to this new sad and painful existence. And each day thereafter, my wings became heavy and thin as they withered in the darkness of loneliness until ultimately they disappeared. Instead of trusting what I knew to be true, I started to believe what the caterpillar said to me and no longer had the strength to take flight. And ultimately, I lay on the ground in a ball only to find that when I stretched out I had changed, I was a different shape and color. Worse of all, my spirit changed and it affected every part of me. My electric blue had been replaced by a dull green that hid me from the elements. I began to blend into my surroundings and felt invisible in this world. I started to forget the experience of the life I once had. And, over time, I even forgot that I was ever a butterfly for to me that was only an illusion now.
As I lost my hope, I became something else. I started to crawl place to place in this mistaken reality, I could not understand what was the point of life. I had no joy and I had no excitement as I moved about in my colorless experience of the world. But it was strange. I never felt comfortable in this skin I chose and had come to accept. I started to fear the unknown and became numb to almost every previous feeling of love and light I had enjoyed. I felt a sense of melancholy because over time I had forgotten what it felt like to be who I really was and what if felt like to be free. I went for days, months, years depressed that I was in a strange and scary world where life felt hard, difficult even, not carefree and magical as I remembered. As I lost my hope, I lost my purpose and I had lost my way. And when I saw myself in the reflection of the water off the leaf I had been eating, I had become the caterpillar just like he was.
I was exhausted as time passed me by. I was alone and scared, I prayed that the world would just swallow me up. I chose to hide away during the light and only come out when it was dark and I would not be seen. Until one day, I happened out a little earlier than usual, and saw the sun for the first time in so long. I looked up at the light and in a last ditch effort began to pray that I would be shown a better way. Deep inside me, I knew that my life was meant to be so much more than what I was experiencing but I had no idea how to make it so. I could no longer go on the way I had. I began to pray that somehow the pain would stop and my spirit could be free again.
As I nodded off to sleep, exhausted from trying to exist other that who I was, I experienced an amazing vision. From the sun came a beautiful energy, it felt like a great source of strength. Could it be Her? I was in awe of Her beauty and in awe of Her grace. She was familiar, as if we had me before. And then the unthinkable, She communicated with me- She spoke to me and She said, “Oh beautiful butterfly girl, I do know you, look into my eyes and you will see yourself as I see you.” I looked and in her eyes I saw a great love. I welcomed that beautiful source of light and allowed it to wrap around me effortlessly. I nuzzled into Her embrace and allowed all the pain to melt away. It had been so long since I felt like this. I had missed it so. She looked down once again, caressing my hair, gently repeating, “It’s alright, I am still here with you- It’s all right, we have big dreams. Magical things to do, I just need you to return to you.” She continued, “while you may have forgotten, I remember you well. I know who you are, I could never forget you as you are a part of me. You are not alone here in this world, never forget that.” “Prayers are meant to be answered as long as we believe. Everything you had once known would return as long as you have faith that it would and not give up. I need you to dig within and trust that what you need to rise above the darkness is there within, inside you all along.” She smiled, “I know your inner beauty, it makes me sad to think that you had forgotten it was still there. While there were times before when we would fly together over the beautiful countryside, over the powerful ocean, and over the magnificent mountains, just close your eyes and I shall be there with you again as it is time to wake up once again to your truth.”
She said that she came to me as an answer to my prayers. She said that I asked and now I must believe and be willing to receive what comes next so that all that I knew would reemerge in my world. She said it was time to trust. Then She explained, “Prepare yourself for a great challenge where you will have two choices: to not accept the challenge and whither away each day thereafter or choose to have faith that as long as you move forward, all that you know could be possible for your life would come true.” “So dig deep, little one, look deep inside yourself and make the decision to step inside the dark cocoon, for a great shift will come and deliver to you what you need to rediscover the inner freedom that you once knew.” “Do not be afraid, everything up to this point has prepared you and when the day comes you will break out into the light of day and be able to fly, even soar to great heights as you remember how to use your wings and feel the wind beneath them once again.” With those final words, she returned to the light and I felt tears stream down I could not bear to let her go again, as I looked up to the sky and thought, I knew who She was, and felt the pain of loss once again– I thought out loud, “Goodbye my Mother, I love you. I shall do my best.” And just like that, woke up.
And, so it came to pass. One dark night, I made the choice to enter the cocoon and its walls closed all around me. I felt the world tightening followed by moments of pain and moments of confusion. At first, I did not want to continue, I could barely breathe but I remembered the words of that loving energy and She encourage me onward. I continued to move through the process hoping that somehow my perseverance would show great reward. And through it all, I was given the sustenance and strength that I needed to grow. As it got scarier, I closed my eyes, and with great trust asked for what I needed to make it through. And when it grew darker and darker, and I could no longer bear it, I noticed a small crack in what I thought was the solid wall that surrounded me. A beam of light made its way through, so bright I had to cover my eyes to protect them from the sting of its brightness. Once my eyes adjusted, I started to move and turn towards it. Once I felt that give of the hard covering that surrounded me, I started to push. I pushed with all my might through to the other side, cracking out of my shell, basking in the warmth that was delivered directly to me. The walls that were once there started falling all around me, and jubilantly I experienced utter joy. I pushed, pushed and pushed and broke through. Letting the sun dry my wings, trusting that they would carry me again, feeling hope for the first time as I could not wait to fly from flower to flower. I remembered, I remembered, I remembered. I was a beautiful spirit. I was again free and flitting here and there, everywhere, just experiencing life. I remembered the mystical, magical and miraculous. I remembered just existing in nature as one with it all. I was a magnificent energy to behold, so colorful and bright, my aura was a hue of electric blue that looked purple in the light of day. I remembered being surrounded by many other equally marvelous spirits, all of us feeling the delight of the wind beneath our wings, just grateful to be alive.
And in this dream, I was the beautiful butterfly girl, “la Bella Farfalla”.