About Our Roles In Others' Lives
One morning I was feeding the rescue cats that live in shelters we built around our home, when I noticed one of the cats in hunting mode, chasing something. As I got closer, I noticed the cat was mercilessly swatting at a butterfly, playing his catch game. I got closer, shooed the cat away and examined the poor butterfly. The back part of its wings had been slashed on several places, leaving the butterfly still able to fly, but only at short heights and distance. With pain in my heart for the poor butterfly, I decided to try to get it and move it to a safer location where it wouldn’t be so exposed. As I tried to approach it and carefully scoop it in my hands, the butterfly seemed to understand I was trying to help. It simply walked from my cupped hands to my left wrist and just sat there, seemingly waiting for my next move.
Mind you, that was the very first time I ever had a butterfly pose on my arm, and I felt a sense of exhilaration, as well as responsibility for that beautiful and precious little life. I started scouting the area for a place where to safely discharge the ward in my care. I walked towards one of my neighbor’s house and approached a low hedge in the middle of their front yard. Not sure if that would be safe enough, I decided to ask the butterfly. As I got closer to the hedge, moving as if to place it there, the butterfly walked up from my wrist to my arm, giving me a clear indication that it wasn’t ready to get off. So I kept slowly walking around, butterfly on arm, until I noticed a low-bearing tree behind the wood fence between the next two neighbors. Some of the tree branches touched the top edge of the fence. I climbed up a pile of bricks to reach the top of the 6’ fence, paused and decided to ask the butterfly if that was a better spot. As I was in the process of formulating that question in my mind, the butterfly seemed to instantly respond by walking down my arm and into a leaf from one of the tree branches over the fence. Elated, I said goodbye and left it there, hoping it would still be able to live the rest of its short butterfly life in peace.
I found the experience quite moving in many ways. And since I believe everything happens for a reason, I started looking for the meaning behind this sad but beautiful experience I had just shared with a butterfly. What came to mind was a parallel with my profession. As a healer, it’s my job to create the safe space to assist the people I cross paths with in dealing with the challenges they encounter, and help them find a better path. But all I can do is to serve as a tool, a facilitator, a ride from point A to point B. As much as I want to help, even to the point that I might occasionally entertain the misguided belief that I know what’s best for my clients, in the end my job is to gently guide them where they want to go, while checking along the way if they are indeed approaching their goals; and then finally letting them go when they find the perfect spot where to get off and continue their journeys on their own (or with someone else’s assistance). I would have loved to know if that butterfly managed to live the rest of her life flying from flower to flower, completing its mission in this world. But I had to trust the fact that our paths were just meant to cross for that brief period of time during which we connected and learned from each other, while I was able to be of service.
The same principle can apply to anyone trying help a loved one through a challenge. The bottom line is, we can’t shorten anyone’s path; but occasionally we may be placed in a position to offer someone a hand (or accept someone’s support), as we all continue to move forward at our own pace to where we need to be…
On a side note: I often use the butterfly symbol of transformation during my sessions, and I actually had a client gift me a beautiful coffee cup with the following famous quote:
“Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly…”
© Gisele Marasca-Vargas; 10/23/2017