When I was younger, about the age of 11, my cousin and I would capture butterflies with a yellow pail.The yellow bucket had three holes in 3 different areas that formed a triangle. During the summer morning, we would go outside to play with one another and observe the butterflies that roamed freely. Curious and equally smitten with the butterfly’s wing pattern, we would grab the yellow pail and chase the butterflies around the small backyard, until we eventually caught one.
The air filled with laughter, smiles were drawn on our faces, and our arms were fully extended with the medium sized yellow pail as we continued to prance around the backyard chasing butterflies.
My cousin and I spent a lot of time trying to catch a butterfly in our yellow pail, but we hardly did. Whenever we got close enough to place our bucket over it, it flew off into the distance. We laid down on the grass next to our basket of “outside toys” which was just an oversized basket of deflated balls, whiffle bats, rubber band balls, and WWE action figures that were missing limbs. All day we thought about what we would do if we had the opportunity to capture a butterfly finally.
One day, I stepped outside and captured a butterfly at the age of 11. Happiness was drawn upon my face as my smile extended from ear to ear, tears began to pile up, and my head exploded with several possibilities on what comes next. Like every child, I wanted it to be my pet. Quickly, I yelled for my cousin to bring a jar.
The entire neighborhood must have heard me! Minutes pass by, and my knees were digging deep into the dirt, and my hands were on top of the pail. I couldn’t let my newfound pet escape. I don’t think my cousin has heard me at this point. So, I sprint over to the bucket that reads, “outside toys” and grab a deflated soccer ball. I placed it over the yellow pail and immediately ran inside to grab a jar to put it in.
Two minutes passed by and my heart feels as if it is ready to burst out of my tiny chest. With no hesitation, I slapped the deflated soccer ball of and kicked over the pail. Sweat trickled down my cheek as I unscrewed the top of the jar, this level of excitement was unmatched. Finally! I cut my eyes back to the butterfly. I felt my heart drop to the abyss of my stomach.
As I looked at the butterfly lying on the ground lifeless, I immediately resented the idea of capturing it.All it wanted to do, was what nature intended it to do, fly freely. Instantly, I ran back inside of my house and told my mother who was in her room, watching daytime television. Once I explained the story to her,
she explained to me,
“Not everything should be captured. Some things are meant to fly.”
The butterfly was one of those things.
April 26 th , 2018
Ten years have passed, and I am currently at college in Vermont. It was around late April when me and my friend, Brandon, took a walk behind our school at sunset.
Behind my school was the soccer field and if you walked past that, there are three paths: one that goes straight, one that goes left, and another that goes right. Brandon and I walked to the right; there was an extended path filled with trees, mushrooms, and signs of different animals that lived in the area.
As we continued our walk, I noticed a caterpillar was inching its tiny body across a dead leaf that was next to my foot. Not only was it small but it was less inferior to everything around it. Therefore, it was trying to remain unseen from potential threats by hiding on the leaf and observe the behavior of us, now that we were near it. It was figuring out survival in this strange world.
I related to the caterpillar. I felt less inferior to the things around me. Especially things that were bigger than me.
Throughout my life, I felt smaller than the things around me. Most times, I figured if I went unnoticed everything would be fine.
Like the caterpillar in this present moment, I feared what was going to happen next. What if I don’t get a job after I graduate, and I end up drowning in student loan/credit card debt? Better yet, what if I die
before I complete my full evolution? Would I be free?
These were the questions that flooded my head and caused me to second guess my development as a person. I related to the caterpillar in the ways that it conducted itself.
“We are one and the same,” I whispered.
I was once insecure about my place in the world. A few years ago, the summer before my freshman year of college to be exact, I entered my stages of the cocoon. A drastic change was going to happen to me,
and I had to figure out how to conduct myself through that time.
August 22 nd , 2018
I was away at camp in Pennsylvania for two weeks. Disconnected from my phone, social media, and pretty much the outside world.
In days prior, campers, as well as counselors, were able to experience the butterfly dome that was on the campsite. Inside the butterfly sanctuary was a man called, Butterfly Rob, who welcomed any individual who was curious about butterflies or just anyone who wants to enjoy the experience of being surrounded by them.
When you walked into the butterfly dome, several things were going to catch your eye outside of the butterflies. For instance, there were oranges, sounds of a waterfall, cups of water, etc. that made you feel welcome.
On this day, I was grieving hard. My friend had passed away on July 30th, and instead of taking time off to mourn, I went away to camp two weeks with the belief that my negative feelings were going to disappear magically. I was still having trouble trying to understand this new dark world that I wandered in. The workshop that I was in was having its turn to write in the butterfly dome today and at 10:00 a.m. we all headed there.
While inside of the Butterfly Dome, we all sat down on the lawn chairs. Some of the campers wrote while others picked up orange slices from the counter to attract the 20 plus butterflies that flew around.
Being that a lot of these kids never had the experience of getting close to a butterfly, they were like how I was when I was 11 years old. Captivated by the colors and intoxicated by the thoughts of the butterfly without realizing how much the world despises it.
Gracefully, I watched the campers in my workshop approach butterflies aggressively without fully understanding the true nature of them. Each one of them surrounded the mesh walls of the dome with hopes of attracting a butterfly onto their finger or face. Then there was I, who was sitting down on one of the lawn chairs that were provided, thinking of the battles I have faced and how I didn’t feel free from myself.
I let my worries pile up as I continued to sit down — thoughts of when I was going to get a butterfly to land on either the orange slice or my finger, consistently roamed throughout my mind for the entire 15
minutes that we have been there.
A couple of minutes have passed by, and the campers in my workshop squeezed the orange onto my fingers and told me,
“trace it along with your forehead!”.
Of course, I didn’t hesitate, so I traced a triangle pattern on my forehead and waited. As I walked closer to the mesh walls of the dome to where the butterflies were, I was swarmed by the misunderstood creature that sat on the bridge of my nose.
As my workshop was now leaving the dome, the kids began to weep both tears of joy and sadness. For it was the last day of the dome, by tomorrow morning the butterflies were going to be set free.
Later that day, there was a staff reading located in the Playhouse on the campsite. Majority of the staff members showed up around 9 pm once the majority, if not all the campers in their bunks were asleep. Together we all sat in a circle and shared either something we have worked on or are currently working on. Fellow staff members were sharing memoirs, fiction, poetry, and even monologues that they have written.
For me, I was cautious about what I was going to present. All day I was scribbling a poem about my late friend, Fuquan. I heard my name called after one of my friend’s finished reading a piece from a story that she has been working on for the past couple of years. At this time it was my first time presenting a part of my work. It was my golden opportunity to display all the pain I felt about my friend passing away as well as my journey through grieving.
Quickly, I unfolded the piece of paper I held onto tightly in my hand and recited,
“You died almost three weeks ago, and I still can’t keep myself together.
I tried to find answers underneath the stars and on top of the morning sun.
My tears found refuge in the palms of my hand.
Soaked lifelines and trembling fingers,
I felt myself slip through the earth’s shadows.
Your name appeared on my lips.
Mainly at night,
When the stars illuminated the window of heaven,
And the moon was the guide to you.
The moon doesn’t allow solace,
Helios doesn’t offer heat,
But nobody gets wet.
I’ve been better, and I thought you should know,
Every moment our palms clapped, and our fingers interlocked,
I found serenity in the imperial power of brotherhood.
I lost the anger of Mars; I found the peace of Hestia.
If the moon controls the high tides
Why couldn’t it pull me closer to you
Instead of drowning me into a sea of melancholy.”
Once I finished reading my poem, I stared down at the wooden floor that my tears soaked. Each one of my friend’s hands draped over me and hugged me tightly. Together we formed a vast blanket of a haven.
In that single moment, I felt free.
August 23rd, 2018 Approximately 11 am
At the count of 1, butterflies flew from the dome. Spreading their wings, drifting away from the hands of humans and into the new-found world of freedom. No longer were they, prisoners, for they were free. Free from the smells of citrus, loud noises from children, and most importantly, free from the confinement of the mesh walls that imprisoned it.
The butterflies and I wanted the same thing. To be free in a world that wants to confine us. We didn’t want to stay inside of the walls that we thought were home.
We wanted to be free. For the butterfly, it didn’t want to find itself trapped in some kid’s yellow pail or confined in the mesh walls on a campsite filled with loud noises. It wanted to own the sky.
I wanted to escape the box that I placed myself in. I had to realize that I needed to inhale and exhale to breathe. Holding in oxygen until my chest expands, eyes bulged, and face discolors, wasn’t going to help me be free.