I kept searching for a different inspiration for this Musing. But try as I might, the inspiration for this month’s contemplation persisted. You see, I transplanted two of my pineapples into pots around my backyard. In digging the plants up, I was so preoccupied with protecting my hands and wrists (pineapples have wicked sharp, saw-toothed leaves), I didn’t see the little cocoons attached to their undersides. Each one a beautiful, jade green capsules with little “rhinestones” of silvery dots.
The pineapples were at the base of two huge milkweed plants, which Monarchs love, a central part of my butterfly garden. So when I saw a monarch emerging from one of the transplanted pineapples, I noticed the cocoons. Because the milkweed plants are outside my desk window I often watch the butterflies do their slow dance of emergence. Breaking free of the edge of the cocoon and spending hours slowly flapping their wings during the sun´s zenith. I imagine the heat drying out their wings, preparing them for flight. So I watched as it fruitlessly flapped, and worried about its ability to fully emerge to its next stage of development on the north side of my yard, where the winter light is dimmest. Later on, it was clearly struggling. Examining it more closely, I saw that one of it’s hind wings was not unfurling. Like pie dough stuck to it’s center, the constant movement of wing did nothing to help it open. Hours went by, but I saw it move its way to a sunny spot, and hoped it would help. The hind wing remained steadfastly unfurled. Sadly, I found it floating on the pool later that day, and so I placed it in the sunniest, most insulated resting spot I could find for it’s final moments.
Then, with the slightest effort, I redirected my focus from that one little butterfly to the yard as a whole. Instantly, my eyes saw a yard filled with butterflies of different hues, stripes and shapes frolicking and sipping nectar within my plants. Funny how we humans are so drawn to “what’s not OK” that we miss the wonderful right in front of us. This spurred me to reflect upon the many events that had come into my life and then quickly faded away over the last few months. Events I had really looked forward to and were excited about. And yet as beautifully as they came, they simply were no more. Funny how letting go of these events seemed far easier than the death of this one butterfly. Perhaps the reason was it’s innocence or my inattention while transplanting, or perhaps it was just to inspire this months’ Musing. No matter, it became a metaphor for the ephemeral nature of …well, Nature. We all in some way, shape, or form have experienced letting go of something “this close to happening,” “really special,” or “exactly what we had hoped for.” All of us have lived through watching and waiting for something to go in a particular direction, and then witness it slowly curl away from us like a tendril of smoke suddenly carried away by a freshening breeze. Life is filled with many, many, many “almost’s.”
It’s not always clear why somethings we yearn for don’t come to fruition. Why relationships don’t pan out in the way that we had hoped. Business circumstances, social events, creative plans, and/or aspirations for those we love, fall away. But what seems essential in these moments is that we pull back— pull way back, to our Higher Nature. To a part of ourselves which is wide enough, clear enough, and vast enough to see that although one circumstance may be fading away, others are blooming right in front of our eyes. And when it seems like either significant, or multiple losses and endings are occurring, it’s even more critical to connect to the essence of our own being, our own inner nature. For in the natural environment, as in all things in life, there is simultaneously blooming and wilting, growing and dying, capacities expanding and shrinking. Our western culture values expansion, growth, and gain. But the expectation of growth without the natural counterbalance of contraction, can become like an inner cancer; seeking expansion to the point where it harms the host. Watching hopes and aspirations fade away can be tough, but it is natural. And here is the beautiful part: