I spent all summers of my chilhood and teenage in the country, in a house with a big garden full of trees and flowers . There were all kind of insects in the garden, and I liked ants and butterflies the most and mosquitos and flies the least, with many other species in between (arachnids, crickets, bees, beetles, centipedes and worms come to mind). Insects are also in some wonderful books I read at the time. Always a good idea to bring things to kids´ minds through insects. Here is a list of books just in case you´re interested about it
I remember a story about a boy who makes friendship with an Ant, which with its sting could make him small enough to live among the ants. He was hanging around with his friend ant (always by night), visiting the ant´s nest, meeting many ants and learning about their lifes. After a few months, one day there are news about red ants invading his friend ants´ territory. They´re going to fight, although at the end they do not expect great results because the red ants are much more agressive and have been invading many other territories successfully. What surprised and impacted me the most was that the boy´s friend ants did not feel hate against the enemy. It was a great discovery, and a good example for future behavior. I like to think (although it´s probably not real) that book had an influence in the way I´ve decided to look at humanity and myself, as an animal in its biotope, in order to avoid taking decisions under the influence of bad feelings or old wounds. It also impressed me something I read in the book and saw in my garden: ants protecting aphids and the aphids providing the ants with food, like shepherds and flock. I also remember very well "The Ant and The Grasshopper". I´ve always thought I´m more of an ant kind of person. My last contact with ants happened years ago, watching "A Bugs Life" with my children. I liked that movie.
I also liked "Maya The Bee" when I was a kid, but it was maybe too childish. I´m sure I´m missing some, but oh well... Insects are the most numerous species on the earth, so no surprise they have followed me through my life somehow. When I was in High School my funnest school work was the insect collection I made. There was a little bit of everything: chasing insects outside, biblio work and then some hand work.
When I was at college in Oviedo I lost contact with insects. But one day I paid visit to one of my father´s friends, who was a poet, among many other things, and he gave me one of his poetry books with a dedicatory. The tittle of the book is "Rock´n Roll with black butterflies", and it was inspired by the time he spent in Africa working for the UNESCO.
I´ve been blessed with the gift of being an optimist, a butterfly kind of person. I see and look for flowers everywhere.
Yeah, I know there´s crap out there, but reality is most bad things are only "virtually" crap or flowers, so you can make them one or the other, thinking like a fly or a butterfly. I´m going to give two examples of that from my personal experience. A few years ago I was diagnosed with prediabetes. It has meant I have had to change my eating habits a lot. Now I have 5 meals instead of 3, they are much more frugal and I can not eat many things I like. May look like crap but I hasn´t been. Fact is I now eat with real appetit, when most of the time in the past I was eating just with gluttony. In order to find satisfaction in my meals I had to concentrate on the product, in the flavors and stuff, which is not always a win despite having a good cousine here, because even the good can become repetitive. You know what? The best condiment is hunger. Now every meal is a gift, because I´m satisfying a NEED, flavors being just a plus. And it happens 5 times per day. I have 5 happy guaranteed moments per day, which probably have never happened before in my whole life.
Another example, looking at my own death. Fear has always been a feeling I´ve had since a child, especially fear of pain and fear of death (seems to run in my family, because the first whole phrase my oldest son produced was a question: "Daddy, Am I going to die?"). While pain seems pretty real and hard to take with optimism (you just wish to kill that time), our own death is actually something pretty virtual in a sense, because until you´re dead there´s no death, and when you´re dead there´s no death either, because there´s no You to deal with it. The biggest effect of our own death in our life is how that idea of death affects our way of living. It can motivate us to live as well as possible or it can make us suffer or live a conditional life.
In my personal experience people can not easily choose to be a fly or a butterfly, it seems to be part of the basic package of a person´s character. That´s why I call it a gift. I like to think people can metamorphose from fly to butterfly, although I haven´t seen it actually happening yet with anyone I´ve personally met in my life.
Anyhow, let´s think it can always happen, perhaps just by chance.
The first novel I read when I was a teen was Papillon(butterfly in French). Such a great novel ... that I didn't like the movie, if you know what I mean. The English translation was made by Patrick O'Brian, best known for his Aubrey–Maturin series of novels, the first of which is Master and Commander, which happens to be the famous movie starring Russell Crowe. One of the main points in the plot of that movie is about the camouflage ability of the stick insects. And yeah, I´ve taken that long weird route to get to this point: some butterflies have the most amazing and beautiful camouflage you can find on Earth.
I´d like someone making a post called "If the Blazers were insects", publishing it while this one is still active. I´m too tired to make it. And I don´t want to go on topic even if I could make a short list here. I want to end 2013 in a good note ;)
I want to end this post with apologies for my poor English and for making this post too much about myself. So to close this thing, and in recognition of the beauty of the language I´m destroying, I let you with this poem:
My little Mädchen found one day
A curious something in her play,
That was not fruit, nor flower, nor seed;
It was not anything that grew,
Or crept, or climbed, or swam, or flew;
Had neither legs nor wings, indeed;
And yet she was not sure, she said,
Whether it was alive or dead.
She brought it in her tiny hand
To see if I would understand,
And wondered when I made reply,
"You’ve found a baby butterfly."
"A butterfly is not like this,"
With doubtful look she answered me.
So then I told her what would be
Some day within the chrysalis;
How, slowly, in the dull brown thing
Now still as death, a spotted wing,
And then another, would unfold,
Till from the empty shell would fly
A pretty creature, by and by,
All radiant in blue and gold.
"And will it, truly?" questioned she—
Her laughing lips and eager eyes
All in a sparkle of surprise
"And shall your little Mädchen see?"
"She shall!" I said. How could I tell
That ere the worm within its shell
Its gauzy, splendid wings had spread,
My little Mädchen would be dead?
To-day the butterfly has flown,—
She was not here to see it fly,—
And sorrowing I wonder why
The empty shell is mine alone.
Perhaps the secret lies in this:
I too had found a chrysalis,
And Death that robbed me of delight
Was but the radiant creature’s flight!
By Mary Emily Bradley.