Monday, August 23, 2004

M4 Butterflies In the Stomach


This morning while I was brushing my teeth there was a sudden and furious flapping in the bathroom startling me out of my standing slumber.

Duck, BAT!

When I looked, it was a friendly mariposa (butterfly), a cousin, no doubt, of the one I encountered last week. He was completely frightened and I thought he would die bouncing off the walls like a pinball in his panic to escape.

There was something to his panic that was a natural reaction.

There was also something more in deadly in his panic than in the actual danger.

In my own life, I can only liken it to one thing. Mountain biking. I have been in situations where, speed and technical conditions suddenly overtook my riding ability and I was caught riding way outside my comfort zone and my self-presumed ability.

In this situation, I have never panicked. I have also never crashed. (Knock wood!) I was comfortable with my extreme discomfort and that’s what saved me. Had I reacted, even slightly, I would have gone down and the results would have been terrible.

I also learned that I had more ability than I imagined. When the occasion arose, I was able to operate outside my self-imposed limitations.

Fear is as real as you want it to be.

Fear may be an alarm, but usually it’s a false one.

If you always react as if the alarm is real, the fear becomes reality. If you acknowledge fear as fear and not reality, fear does not have to become fate.

My immediate concern is quelling the fear of a terrified mariposa. He wouldn’t stay still long enough for me to catch him, but I was determined to save him.

Think. Quickly.

I turn off the lights. He stops fluttering, calms down and perches himself on the side of the mirror.

I capture him with a cup by covering the top with a towel. Then, I carefully transfer my live cargo to the balcony where I set him free!

It felt great that this one would be able to fly about the garden and spread the happiness that seems to go along with these most fabulous creatures.

This morning, fear did not become fate.

This mariposa was brown like wood and had wings about as big as my hand. He’s cleverly disguised, not that this guy stood still long enough for me to tell, but I have seen his type before. If you view him from the side, he looks like he has eyes on his wings to discourage would-be predators fearful of a large mammal. I guess in his own way he’s playing off the fear of potential predators to protect himself. I can’t say I blame him.

It’s hard to think of mariposas (I like the Spanish word better than the English) as insects. These creatures are among natures’ most colorful, free and symbolic. When I was in Costa Rica I went to a “Jardin Mariposa” (Butterfly Garden) and learned about their life cycle.

They start life as lowly caterpillars and seemingly dead, wind up as ugly, boring, cocoons. I wonder if cocoons know they will be transformed into some of natures’ most beautiful, inspiring and transformative creatures?

I wonder if they would feel better knowing their destiny as fabulous Mariposas?

I had always heard that the Monarch Butterflies flew to Mexico from the United States. It’s great to be here with them.

The animals are following me. After my first night here, I hoped to get a closer look at the cat on the archway.

My wish has come true.

The other night I returned home and sat outside writing as I am now. I had just left my wallet on the bed and I thought I saw it falling off the bed. Then I thought I saw something move.

Couldn’t be. Could it? El gato?

I was just in there – there could be nothing in that room. Then I saw it again and it looked strangely as though a cat were pawing the comforter from underneath the bed. Surely, this is some hallucination, a delusion or dream because I miss my cats.

Sure enough it was moving and I decided to go in and investigate. It could be an iguana or something terrible. I already found a big spider and the school warns us about scorpions. I stood atop the bed and gently lifted the comforter. I slowly peered from above under the bed and there was a small black and white cat.

She has a novio (boyfriend) who comes to the balcony to serenade her at times. He is shy like she is. Not quite feral, not quite your average house cats.

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