“I am my heart’s undertaker. Daily I go and retrieve its tattered remains, place them delicately into its little coffin, and bury it in the depths of my memory, only to have to do it all again tomorrow.” ~E Autumn
I have a funny story to tell you. It is this past week’s photography mishap number one. You won’t be rolling in your seat when it’s said and done, unless you have a penchant for (insect) black humor.
I went to “Butterfly World”in Scottsdale and I can’t say I’d recommend it, considering it is the same price as the terrific Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum and just slightly bigger than the yearly butterfly exhibits at some of the area’s museums. Plus there is so much humidity in the habitat that your hair will stand on end and do very strange things after about 5 minutes. Anyway, before you can enter the exhibit, you have to wait in this “holding tank area”, where they tell you all the dos and don’ts: for example, do not try to catch the butterflies, do not let them alight on your fingers, do not eat food or chew gum, do not pick the flowers, etc. Yes, and WATCH WHERE YOU WALK. All cool, I generally like to abide by rules (if they make sense and are for the common good).
So, I am walking around and taking images and stop in one spot where the big, blue butterflies seemed to like to congregate. Blue butterflies are constantly in motion; they must instinctively know that their color is especially attractive to birds and photographers alike. Then it happened. ONE foot literally took an inch step backwards and I hear “Oh, NO, you stepped on a butterfly”. What, who me? Yes, you, Maureen, I said to myself after looking down. Oh, boy. The mother of this family next to me tells me how it landed by my foot and I stepped on it. The father said, “Its body looks like a chrysalis now, that doesn’t look good.” Mom pointed out, that is because she stepped on it and now its wings were detached from its body. And then the kid of said family literally SCREAMS out “You killed a butterfly!”. OMG, I wanted to die. But it was an accident….I am not a butterfly killer, I pleaded. I even take spiders outside instead of squishing them! The explanation was to no avail, little kid with large vocal cords was not impressed….the kid loudly said “You killed a butterfly!”, again. Sigh. The Mother, in a slight tither, said “We need to call over the attendant and let him know”, flapping her arms about to get his attention. I felt like I was in a scene from a bad movie and the absurdity of the situation kind of struck me at that point. And while I felt guilty and bad about the situation, I also felt it was a bit comical. I did another bad thing…I chuckled. I couldn’t help it. The actual incident was sad but the way this family overreacted just struck me as funny. I thought about some of the situations that I would not want to be next to them ever gain in this lifetime, or the next one either: a plane crash, whitewater rafting, at a buffet when they ran out of roast beef, etc. I don’t like scenes but this family seemed to think they are de rigueur and that embarrassing me for my one inch faux pas was perfectly acceptable. There is a religious sect in India that tries to insure in every way that they do no harm. The Jains go so far as gently sweeping the ground before them in order not to have any mishaps like I did. That is good if you are a monk but I have things I need to do!
The family’s overreaction also got me thinking…why do we so value a butterfly over say, a grasshopper. Because they are pretty (their wings are pretty but the rest…not so much)? Because they signify “freedom”? Because they seem so carefree and special, flitting around in their colorful costumes? Are cutesy things worth more just by virtue of their looks? The sad fact is “Yes, they are.” It’s shallow but it is true for the vast majority of people. Bees do an extremely important job in nature but no one would have a conniption over my accidentally stepping on one of those, would they? And we do the same thing with people, somehow the beautiful are more worthy than others. Everyone is guilty of it at times. Modern life sometimes seems more about quantity over quality, social media likes over excellence, how things appear vs. the reality of what is, alliances over deeply meaningful relationships. Butterflies over bees. It’s kind of sad, really.
Think about this the next time you intentionally squish a spider with t.p or your shoe. 😉