When I was younger, I was so captivated by butterflies I took to capturing them, in a jar, in my hands… In one instance remember watching in amazement as a pale yellow butterfly fluttered around in the cave of my hands. But then I noticed something: when I trapped it in my hands, a dusty residue would appear. Trying to keep it from flying away, I cupped my hands a hair tighter until I could feel its wings beating gently against my palms.
Giving a closer look I could see that one of the wings was now bent, cracking. It shocked me for a minute– all I had wanted to do was hold this butterfly, look at it, marvel at it. But the wings had not held up against even the gentle cupping of my hands.
And it occurred to me that life, honestly, is like the butterfly (and its wings): more fragile than we think it is. We just want to hold onto it, moment by moment, marvel at what we have, our blessings, the blessings of others… But the slightest motion can come along and crack it, bend it, leave it hanging by a thread.
Just half an hour ago I read an Instagram post from an acquaintance my age regarding her mother’s tragic loss to a 5-year long fight with cancer. Shortly after that, I read about a car accident involving 4 passengers under 20 years old, where one of them had passed away and the others required urgent care. She reflected on the fact that life is so precious, and could be taken away in a heartbeat. I thought back to the recent loss of my grandfather and grandmother and just stopped, forgetting the recent posts I had viewed just stamped with my double tap of approval faded, and all that seemed to linger in my mind was the raw emotion of of the posts, the sadness of the words, the surge of empathy that came after reading it, and the quiet comforting feeling of the comments containing nothing but love and support.
It made me think about what mundane things we fill our lives with…worry and drama and money and fights… And how precious every moment really is…
Being very unproductive today made me feel guilty, like I hadn’t lived this day to the fullest, or treated every breath like it was my last.
But that’s a bit unrealistic, yeah? No one goes around thinking “I could die today, better make the best of today”. If we all walked around thinking that, we’d be depressed. And some people are, but that’s besides the point.
And then I got to thinking… Where’s the balance? I want to live every moment to the fullest but I don’t want to think about death, and I don’t want to constantly feel like I’m taking things for granted. Normally, in today’s society, we only notice after it’s too late. The waves of support come _after_ the shootings, _after_ the rapes, _after_ the suicides. I know humans live by trial and error and we learn things more often than not the hard way, but why can’t the waves come sooner? And so my mind comes back, having come full circle and I still don’t know how to cherish every moment.
But then I thought–
What if instead of savoring everything (wouldn’t that just lead to a sensory overload?) we selected wisely what we wished to savor and support, all while being mindful of the fact that nothing is permanent, anything can happen, and that life is perhaps more fragile than a butterfly’s wing?
I though about this some more and stepped back and observed how I savor.
I smile at people. It especially helps the savoring process when they smile back.
I close my eyes and try to feel everything that’s going on around me– the humidity, the child screaming, the faint scent of petunias, the colors behind my eyelids.
I sing. Anywhere and everywhere, I let the words and the melodies wrap themselves around my heart and my brain and sit back as they settle in to form a link to a memory, a sensation, something I want to feel for a long time from now.
I hug. Whether it’s to brighten someone’s day or make my own, there aren’t words for the wonders a much needed hug can do.
I pray. Or meditate. (Depending on the mood and what feels right at the time.) And sometimes that brief taking stock of everything moment just puts it all in place, and makes you aware of the gravity in which you exist in that single moment.
How do you guys savor every day life?