Quiet Butterfly

Quiet Butterfly


Keeping Quiet

by Pablo Neruda

Now we will count to twelve

and we will all keep still.

For once on the face of the earth,

let’s not speak in any language;

let’s stop for one second,

and not move our arms so much.

It would be an exotic moment

without rush, without engines;

we would all be together

in a sudden strangeness.

Fisherman in the cold sea

would not harm whales

and the man gathering salt

would not look at his hurt hands.

Those who prepare green wars,

wars with gas, wars with fire,

victories with no survivors,

would put on clean clothes

and walk about with their brothers

in the shade, doing nothing.

What I want should not be confused

with total inactivity.

Life is what it is about;

I want no truck with death.

If we were not so single-minded

about keeping our lives moving,

and for once could do nothing,

perhaps a huge silence

might interrupt this sadness

of never understanding ourselves

and of threatening ourselves with death.

Perhaps the earth can teach us

as when everything seems dead

and later proves to be alive.

Now I’ll count up to twelve

and you keep quiet and I will go.


Quiet. I crave it but never seem to get enough; quiet in my external environment and quiet from an internal dialogue that haunts me. It is only with quiet that I find clarity, especially during periods of great transformation. As in the metaphor of the butterfly, I feel the delicate strands of a self-imposed cocoon restricting at the moment. Discomfort is necessary for growth and I wonder how much I must bear before breaking free and stretching my new found wings. I feel a constant hum of the other, a sound in the distance that beckons me. The sound being the steady march of possibility, the limitation being a tightly wrapped cocoon. I have the urge to burst forth regardless of circumstance, common sense tempers this desire with a litany of questioning. A constant risk assessment visits like a bad habit, it baffles the mind.


Having flirted with uncertainty before,  memory replays moments of flight apart from this ever tightening cocoon. Even so, I am certain that I have stifled transformation by allowing the opinions of others and even myself to further restrict.  It is difficult to admit that in learning how to fly the atmosphere will become unstable. Wings must be taught how to catch the air, glide effortlessly and land softly while still enduring bumpy rides and hard landings. The discomfort of it all is like an itch that can not be scratched, lessened only by the ever present hum of possibility.


“My imagination functions much better when I don’t have to speak to people.”

― Patricia Highsmith


Tuning into this hum calls for solitude and a clear mind.  Only in this space am I able to separate fear from possibility, often becoming shaken by the speed of impending transformation. Life is so very short and if not soaring what then? I have only myself to blame if I do not escape from this cocoon with a certain measure of immediacy. It is only in flight that all pretense is left behind and beautiful colors that are uniquely mine appear.


“The quiet sense of something lost”

― Alfred Tennyson


In this space I sense those who have come before, living in the most unusual of ways.  Having unabashedly taken flight they experienced both the joy and heartbreak of a life well lived. Feeling the void of sudden departure it is clear someone will fill this space, this vacuum. Someone will be the free spirit that shines deeply, unafraid of the cuts. Someone will live dangerously, taking chances and relishing results. Someone will approach all others with unconditional love, no expectations or judgments. Someone will break free and fly…. Looking to the sky, I smell the air, feel the breeze and absorb the rays of the sun. It is only in failing that one can be transformed. I silently pray that I become this someone. I silently pray for wings.



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