Butterflies

From some unknown corner of the house, butterflies are emerging. I’ve liberated 4 this week. Frantically they fly towards the light.

Meanwhile, I’ve been in a chrysalis of my own. Turned away from the world, writhing in chaos and conflict, evolving privately. Metamorphosing.

I’m reading Perdido Street Station by China Miéville (at long last – it’s been on my shelf for around 2 years). That has pupae in it, too. Magnificent ones, that cross the boundaries of ordinary subjective possibilities:

“Its mutating form bubbled and welled up into strange dimensional rifts, oozing like oily sludge over the brim of the world into other planes and back again … it was unstable. It was alive, and then there was a time between forms when it was neither alive nor dead, but saturated with power. And then it was alive again. But different.”

When I was 19, I wrote a song called Butterfly. Possibly the last song I wrote – surely the best – before moving onto poetry. I didn’t think too much about the lyrics at the time, but I was entering into a period of growth, of change, and something deeper than thought knew that.

Again and again throughout life we return to a chrysalis-like state. We find a little place inside and build a wall around it made only of us. There, we reassess our assumptions and mould our mindstuff into something that incorporates our latest perceptions. I like this image so much more than simply saying ‘processing’, which brings to mind the rational and the inorganic.

I can’t describe what kind of butterfly or moth I’m becoming. What my colours or pattern might look like to you, or how I might get on once out in the autumnal air. But I feel the expansion. I feel it slowly coming.

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