Friday, October 12, 2012

When A Remake Won’t Do

This economy has driven many people into dire straits. Some have nearly folded under the weight of adversity; others have reinvented themselves.

If you’re somewhere in the middle—struggling with becoming that cloying, self-help symbol of transformation, the butterfly, and can’t achieve enough lift-off to finish the job of changing your life—then I have an easier visualization technique for you caterpillars in stasis.

I have a dream.

That is, I had a dream about a species of butterfly that doesn’t progress beyond the caterpillar stage. Just when this caterpillar can no longer sustain life as it is, instead of cocooning her/himself, s/he latches on to whatever might serve as wings—leaves, fabric, plastic bags—and flies.

In my dream, the butterfly that arrested my attention was as big as a dinner plate and having trouble flying. Its movement was arduous and erratic. This was largely due, I think, to the butterfly’s choice of wings: a sunny-side-up egg and a golden waffle from someone’s al fresco breakfast plate. Yes, the desperate butterfly I saw chose items of different weights and viscosity that kept him off-balance and made flight awkward. Yet he persevered, even with syrup dripping here and there. I couldn’t take my eyes off him.

Upon waking, this segment of my dreams seemed initially like a complete non sequitur. Yet the more I thought about it, the more I appreciated its appropriate symbolism.

I came to believe that the “breakfast-food butterfly” represented every person who’s ever been hobbled by something—be it financial woes, chronic illness, or emotional turbulence. Sometimes when you struggle against the odds, transformation isn’t in the cards. The most practical option is to make do with what’s at hand in order to get by, get on, get ahead.

Latch on to whatever propels you and rise. It may not be beautiful. It may be nothing you ever aspired to or even wanted, but it’s far better to make do than not do.

[Butterfly photographer unknown; graphic art from Skirt! magazine.]

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