A Butterfly Landing

The weather is different. The sun is different. Here, the sky is different. Instead of closely standing Parisian buildings, my eyes trace up the shapes of mountains to the sky. My nose smells different roses every day.

My mind, my computer, my books, my phone, my many worlds of creation… They all came with me here - the ones I could bring at least. But the texture of my days is different.

Not more than 48 hours ago, I couldn’t wait to finally touch my feet to grass. Now, standing at that line between cement and grass, I hesitate to take off my shoes. My toes still haven’t said hello to that prickly, tingling, grounding sensation.

I don’t know what’s taking me so long, but I’m allowing it to. I was that kid that rushed to the beach and then took a full day to jump in and get wet. The collision of different worlds - dry/wet, concrete/grass - has always been a thing for me. And this may be the first time in my self-parenting that I’m fully allowing that.

What helps is knowing that I’m not alone. It’s not just me coming out of a cocoon these days, maybe only to build new ones. We are all having to adjust: a painstakingly slow deconfinement (Paris), a sudden and unplanned deconfinement after not really being confined (Istanbul), a sad and uncertain continuum of confinement (Ireland).

The world started moving.

The mind is asking: What about my cocoon? I was safe here. I was comfortable. I was sleeping more than I usually do. I was exercising more. I was reading more. I was with a few people I dearly love. I was finally away from the chaos. Now I need to find a job, I need to drive again, no one’s wearing masks.

I hear you, mind, I say. As the pandemic started, we went through a collective feeling of loss. As the rules of the pandemic evolve, we thought we would gain things back but most of us are still losing (a sense of safety in the world) or grieving over what already was.

I walked out to the garden yesterday, in between Zoom calls. I was tired from looking at screens. I was tired from the long car ride the day before. There was a buzz in my head, my eyelids were heavy, I felt I was moving at the speed of a snail. I arrived at the chair next to the pool and sat down, putting the full weight of my body on the chair, putting my phone next to me on the chair, my elbow on my knee, my forehead in my hand.

Something landed next to me suddenly. A breath of air. A flicker of color. I looked around in my startle.

It was a butterfly.

Its red-orange-yellow-black wings were beautifully spreading against the black screen of my phone.

I had never seen a butterfly from so close, for so long. It stayed with me for some time. I investigated its colors, its movements. The way it closed and reopened its wings like the natural closing and reopening of our hearts. I noticed that the butterfly had many tiny strands of hair around its body, shining like strands of gold under the sun. Never had I ever seen butterfly hair before.

My presence deepened, my eyes connected me to this feast of movement and colors. My body connected to the chair, the chair connected to the butterfly, I think in this sense of deep and expanding connection, I became the butterfly.

For a minute.

I lifted my head when I heard footsteps - my partner was excitedly walking to meet me in the garden. My heart panicked. I didn’t want to scare and lose the butterfly, at least not yet! I hadn’t looked at all its golden hair, I hadn’t counted its colors, I hadn’t yet had enough time being a butterfly.

I urged my partner to walk slowly and gently but in my panic, my attention scattered between my partner, his feet, his words, my words and the butterfly. Next time I looked at my phone, it was gone.


The flicker of color was nowhere to be seen in this lush garden of trees, plants, and flowers. It was safely disguised.

My heart ached a little - I had caught the landing but in my moment of panic, I had missed the departure of this lovely creature. I couldn’t investigate the way it would spring up on its feet to fly away. I couldn’t say Enjoy the day, butterfly!

A full day later, in the garden again, and I’m still high from that minute of being one with the butterfly.

I’m reminding myself:

Look for the butterflies, Zeynep. Be one with the moment. Life is a flicker of color. Don’t let the panic of losing it, keep you from living it.

Reflection Questions

  1. What is your sense of loss and gain in the last few months?
  2. How are you making space for this constant change in circumstances and rules?
  3. Do you notice any fear or panic that is scattering your attention and keeping you from being grounded where you are?