The Butterfly Effect
This story was difficult. It came to me on the back of butterfly wings, through tears, like a jigsaw puzzle. A few pieces at a time. I didn't even realise it was a story until it began to assemble itself.
The morning I wrote this story I woke up feeling, well, sort of disappointed and aimless. Do you ever get that? Nothing extreme, I just had that feeling. It was as though I was weighed down by something. But I couldn't quite put my finger on it. Just a hazy feeling of malaise. Infact, after waking up at 5am I hit snooze about 20 times and then finally got up at 7.30. After that I fuzzed around doing non essential things.
Eventually I sat down at my computer at 9.30 to start - working, creating... Something.
But I just couldn't get focussed. Normally I like to write first up when my mind is fresh. But that day my mind was like a mouse plague in a grain store... All over the place, spoilt for choice and a little frantic.
I busied myself cleaning up emails, paying bills and reading articles I meant to read two weeks ago and whose page links had been cluttering up my browser.
But this story, that I didn't even realise was a story, suddenly at 1pm assembled itself.
Last week I went to a funeral. It was for a baby who was born very premature, survived 104 days and then passed over. I knew it was going to be emotional, but I wasn't prepared for just how emotional it would be.
Within about five minutes of sitting down and listening to the speeches the tears started to stream. I hadn't even thought to bring a tissue, so they rolled down my cheeks, onto my neck and down the front of my dress. My nose was crying too. When they played the slideshow of his brief life I in the end had to look away as I was starting to shake and knew that if I watched any longer I would start outright sobbing.
After the speeches we all moved outside to the garden. Bob Marley's, Every Little Thing Is Gonna Be Alright played as they released butterflies as a symbol of that gentle little soul returning to the great mystery. Once again the tears streamed.
It was a beautiful, moving service and I greatly admired his parents' strength in publicly celebrating his life... As a mother I don't underestimate how monolithic that must have been.
Later that week, as a Sunday night treat, I took my two sons out for dessert to a local bar that plays live music and serves yummy pizzas... The boys' fave is the impossibly sweet, gooey over the top delicious, Chocolate and Marshmallow Pizza drizzled in cream.
We sat there, munching, riding the sugar high, listening to the music... And what song should this talented, folky guy play? Every Little Thing is Gonna Be Alright.
In that moment I stopped and started listening... To the music yes, but more than that, to the deep current of life that, bobbing away on the surface we're not always aware of. The sensation was of the camera panning in, extreme close-up, everything stopping around me as I step out of the movie and take a true look at things.
Feelings of gratitude yes... For so many things. Not least of all my two beautiful boys sitting beside me... But also a gentle allowing and acceptance for all of it... The sweet stuff like children and marshmallow pizza, but also the stuff that sucks like heartbreak, loss, failure, disappointment.
I saw it all flowing along that deep, crystal river, all just part of the waterway, no 'good' stream and 'bad' stream... Just all part of it. And when I felt that, I realised I'd been clinging on to a life-raft, that upon looking again, didn't really exist. Instead I was part of the river.
Tenzin Palmo (that Buddhist Nun who is famous for sitting in a cave for many years) says that, "The problem with life is that we think there should be no problems". I suspect that without these problems we're just bobbing away on the surface, instead of flowing in the current of the deep subterranean river. And wrapping your head around that idea is kind of like exhaling and relaxing.
Since the funeral I've noticed many stories of people who were inspired to do things they've always wanted to do, be better parents and so on.
And as for me and my lack-lustre morning? I think maybe I woke up believing that problems are a problem.
The point is, whatever you're going through, it's all part of the river... We want the sweet times, but sometimes they can make us sick... And we struggle through the tough times, but they can make us strong and teach us so much.
Most of all I want to say that, although I never met that little boy, his short life was clearly and perfectly part of that big river. And his parents were so strong and brave and loving in celebrating his life in such a very beautiful, open and public way.
Who can ever know or understand the far reaching effect of butterfly wings?
>>> Leonie Orton is a writer, editor and marketing communications consultant. She'll create communication mediums in the shape of words, graphics and webs for your business, connecting you with the people who need you. Get in touch by email, facebook or twitter. And if you're not already signed up for new writings and special offers, get hooked up here.