Saturday, October 24, 2009

Kings of Optimism

The kids went out on a sunny day last week to release the last of the newly hatched monarch butterflies. Gathering around the aquarium, they lifted the screen top off of it, the breeze tickled the fresh wings, and for the first time they flew into the open air.

To catch a glimpse of a group of children freeing a flock of butterflies on an autumn day in Michigan - well, it doesn't get much better than that.

Hopefully, the brilliant, regal Butterflies will make it south before the north winds push down upon them from Canada.

There's a lot to be learned watching monarchs grow through all their changes - transforming into an ultimately beautiful, and both strong and delicate creature. They're vulnerable to the cold, the rain and wind. Their odds aren't necessarily the greatest. That something so delicate flies thousands of miles through adverse conditions homing in on a place its never seen before is nothing short of amazing - worthy of being called a miracle. From a 'reasonable' point of view, the hope and optimism such a journey requires is beyond the imaginings of most. Yet year after year the journey continues - and many do make it. But of course, some do not.

Such is life.

One chrysalis of this group never hatched. Perhaps a draft got to it, but then why did the others hatch? The little caterpillar died before its final transformation. Of those that did hatch out of their chrysalis' to stretch their wings, some sat on the bushes, not ready to make a move; others took to the skies immediately, quickly lifted up and flew higher and higher above the treetops.

You can imagine which ones will make it to Mexico and which ones will eventually end up covered by the falling autumn leaves.

There's a lot to be learned from these ambassadors of change - fragile, yet strong and persistent. Delicate fierceness.

what is hope?
what are wishes?
what is a prayer?
a monarch flies south against the odds
defining optimism
or delusion
or both.

My friend Marco called today from Texas. A big ol' monarch was in his flower garden gathering nectar and resting as we talked. It had been a long flight from the North. He was one of the ones that made it - that little delusionally optimistic creature. How does he even come to think such things are possible? How ARE such things possible?

I guess it's one more mystery to add to that Big Ol' Pile of Mystery a.k.a. 'The Great Mystery'.

I want to be a good student of the monarchs. A creature that has earned a royal moniker probably has something to teach us. I try to cultivate their internal compass of delusional optimism. I'm pretty new at it; kinda clumsy sometimes. Too easily, with a knee-jerk reaction I revert to old habits of doubt, worry, fear and a boatload of other useless pursuits that don't aid my journey south [or forward] one bit. It seems a worthy challenge to try to emulate their innocent trust in the instinctive process - the bold transformation whose outcome is partially beyond our control. They show us the persistence required: that with will, consistent hard work and not giving up - that maybe - just possibly, with a defiantly, delusionally optimistic and unrealistic attitude, I might one day find myself also in a southern flower garden for the winter.

Seems worth the effort, yes?


White Eagle said...


Someone once said that every now and then a blind squirrel finds an acorn.

Monarchs find there way from Michican to eucalyptus groves in Monterey and Mexico, dancing along in joyous flight on pumpkin-coloured paper wings.

Or they die trying.

Now that's perseverance.

Look to the rainbow (and magnetic north) brother,


Sandi said...

It is in the monarchs, as it is in us...that great beauty...that need to keep moving forward. It is amazing!

el poquito said...

Forward! The only direction, really, eh? So hopefully we can help define what forward looks like to some degree.

And although I can appreciate 'go with the flow' one of the best public bathroom graffiti I ever read was:

"Only dead fish go with the flow."


el - not a dead fish

heather said...

love it as always! i gave you a blog award. i don't expect you to do all of the forwarding, etc. but i do hope it will bring you more readers. that is truly a gift for you and for them!

el poquito said...

well, thanks Heather. Always nice to see you drop by. Hope all is well in your patch of the world.

thanks for the 'award'. I have no idea what that means, but I'll follow your link and see - thanks for the networking gift.

Delusional Optimism: something I'm sure you know plenty about yerself.

Yesterday I overheard an older gentleman answer: "How are you?" with the response, "Great! Not quite awesome, but still great!" I liked that, especially coming from an old guy working out at the gym. My hero of the day.

Dedalus1947 said...

Dear Poquito:

I haven't heard from you in a while. Is everything okay? Are you alright?

I miss your "add libs" as you make life up as you roll along.

Be well, my friend.


el poquito said...

Hey Dedalus,

I'm here. Just been distracted by the river of life flowing extra strongly here. Challenging, but hey, it's good to be here for the challenge! Another day's opportunity to 'show up'. But all is well. Thanks for asking.

Life is good. Very good.