Friday, July 15, 2011

beyond the borders


During one of the darkest days of my darkest year, I watched the newest BBC version of Jane Eyre, and it was nearly a religious experience. Chronicling the story from coldness to warmth, full of romance, full of natural beauty. I felt alive like I hardly ever felt during those months.

More than a year ago, I watched it again, and was struck by a moment when Jane looks at her reflection in the glass top of a frame/case enclosing a blue butterfly. Her face and the butterfly coalesce; it's a beautiful moment, perfect visual storytelling without words.

A few days later I was wandering around a bookstore with Nate, feeling listless and frustrated for no reason. All the old scripts were playing (I've had to fight them throughout our dating so far, not surprising when they were going for 8 years): you have to get married. you have to give up again. you have to give give give and not follow dreams outside of your relationship. he's going to suck the life out of you, he's going to shut you down and off. This, of course, is pure baloney-poop, and has NOTHING to do with what Nate is actually like or expects from me. But my lies can project themselves outwards onto anyone around me so easily.

I looked down and saw a $5.99 journal for sale with a big blue butterfly on the cover, so big its wings went beyond the borders. My heart leapt in the middle of the listlessness. I remembered Jane's face from two days earlier.

I turned a corner, riding that wave of energy, and somehow zeroed in on a book, "Find Your Strongest Life." Also felt the energy, interest, pulling me towards it. That's the Marcus Buckingham book I ended up quoting a lot on here.

But I digress. That was the night I felt like blue butterflies began to mean Yes, you matter! for me, and my brain noted to self "start selective attentioning on these."

Fast forward to arriving in Spain 2 months ago with my friend Sarah, walking into a home on a mountainside overlooking one of the most beautiful views on earth, where we were being hosted by kind strangers, for free. I'm taking photos of the view: the Mediterranean, a castle, a whitewashed village, flowers everywhere, the Sierra Nevadas (seriously, all in one picture. Get thee to Salobrena!). I was feeling exhilerated and drunk on the beauty and rightness of everything, being in Europe and free and turning 30 alongside one of my best old friends also turning 30.

I turned around from that view and just started to laugh when I saw the patio door to our room.


I had forgotten about the symbol, for a year, until that moment. And I don't know why it's blue, because that's never been one of my favorite colors.

The artist we were staying with in Salobrena had some watercolors for sale, and Sarah bought, yep, a blue butterfly for me for my birthday. I've seen more since then. One was tattooed on the wrist of one of my fellow classmates at the Second City improv workshop I just took. They showed up on picture frames my kids made at the family camp we were at. I went ahead and created one for myself at the craft shop there, out of those plastic colored circles that melt onto a shape (above).

I was just reading through my blog posts from around this time last year, about a magic spot Nate took me to next to a mountain stream in Asheville. He picked me flowers and then we walked into a whirling dervish of 5 blue-black butterflies. I missed the special meaning at the time. I just texted him about it, and he sent back a picture I had forgotten he took.



(He pointed out that it's drinking from a blooming thistle, the national flower of Scotland. Nate's full name is Nathan Robertson Crandell, from the Robertson clan. Every so often, the universe nudges me and goes, "You can trust him. He is good. He's not going to hurt you." That's obvious to anyone who knows him, but my breart is still catching up, needs repetitive positivity in the deep places.)

I do think there is something to symbols. Not as a tool for divining right choices, but as a way of reflecting heart happenings. Carl Jung was big on them, and if a more thoughtful, rational, intelligent man existed, I dare you to name him.

You will have your own. Keep your eyes and the eyes of your heart out for them. They will reflect how worthy of love you are. In the meantime, feel free to look for blue butterflies, too. (Come to think of it, there's one on the cover of Martha Beck's book Steering by Starlight - start there!)

One meaning: "Metamorphosis, transmutation. The blue butterfly is a wish-granter."