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Brave as a Butterfly?

A recent art prompt had me thinking about my past and things that I had to be brave about. Brave? I had never thought of myself as brave before. Yes, I’ve had tragedy. Yes, I’ve had to endure things that I shouldn’t have had to. Yes, there are some things I wished I could have not experienced or done over. But, yes. I have been brave.

I also pondered over last year specifically. Were there things I did that I never want to do again? Things I want to repeat again? Things I’ve adapted into my every day life? It was also suggested that we maybe connect with an animal that represents bravery/strength/courage. I have connected with many animals throughout my life. Owls when I was quite young; then it was raccoons for the longest time (I liked their mask. Oh, geez, did I want to hide?); koala bears throughout high school and then not so much as an adult. Yes, there are animals I admire but none that resonated or stayed. Until now.

It was suggested we find an animal that represents bravery, courage and/or strength. Bears, elephants, tigers, etc. I pondered a few days. I kept seeing a butterfly and I kept feeling butterfly. Not liking to be told more than once, I decided to accept the butterfly image, focus on that and waited to see what happened. Funny, but as soon as I accepted this, the thoughts came thick and fast.

Thinking about past events in my life; all the little (and big) things that I’ve experienced throughout my life-time(s), I’ve discovered that the butterfly is the animal for me. “What?!?,” you may very well be saying. Before my revelation, when someone said “butterfly” I instantly thought fragile, beautiful, colorful and in my mind conjured up the most beautiful butterfly I could imagine. I should point out that my butterflies are always great, big and gigantic. Hidden message? Yes, I believe so.

As I focused on my butterfly, I thought about how a butterfly comes to be a butterfly. It starts out as an unsightly larvae. The beginning of an ugly duckling (although some little duckies are quite cute, in my opinion). It grows and grows, doubling, tripling, multiplying how many times it’s original weight into a caterpillar. Now, some caterpillars are very fuzzy-wuzzy and adorable. Some are not so fuzzy and an un-pretty shade of green with faux spikes. They mosey along until their own personal secret, special biological alarm goes off and they spin and weave and become ensconced into their own custom-made sleeping bag and become a chrysalis. Then, their glorious day comes and they emerge. Transformed. Changed. A butterfly!!

How brave is that little larva(e)/caterpillar/butterfly? They undergo changes throughout every stage of their life. And we’re talking life-changing, transforming changes! More than just peeling off an onion layer to reveal our next emotional layer of skin. I sometimes put up quite the fight, kicking and screaming just to accept a new way of thinking. What would I do if I had to go through such a change as a caterpillar? Would I accept my fate, as it were or would I do everything I could to try and change the inevitable? Does a caterpillar just go along quietly without question because that is just the way it is?

Yes, taking a bullet for someone. That’s brave. Yes, enduring and/or surviving a debilitating disease. That’s brave. Having the courage to tell someone how you truly feel. That’s brave. Moving to a completely new environment. That’s brave.

But my new definition of brave? The butterfly.

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