Today, while walking barefoot in the surf of a Costa Rican beach in a happy, slightly disconnected daze, I caught a flicker of dazzling blue from the corner of my eye. My first thought was that it was a bit of plastic, because it seemed so unnaturally blue, but upon closer inspection I realised it was a huge dead-looking butterfly face-down in the wet sand. I sprung into emergency mode and knelt down to administer butterfly CPR (a gentle poke) and miraculously the poor thing clung onto my fingers and I was able to lift it to safety. I ran across the sand with it to the shade of the palm trees and proceeded to sit and watch its recovery on my hand with bated breath for about twenty minutes.
The Blue Morpho is one of the world’s largest butterflies. This one had a wingspan about the width of my palm. Most of the time it sat with its wings pincered together at the back, hiding the dazzling sapphire interior with the uninspiring brown of its underside. I held it up and watched it try to rearrange its face tendrils, which had been squashed out of shape in the sand. Its eyes were so big and beady, and I wondered if it could see me. I talked to it like an absolute nutcase, but I think it liked it. It certainly trusted me enough to stay perched like that for some time.
I blew gently on its wings to help dry them out, and gave an occasional encouraging poke to make sure it was still alive and awake. Eventually it had enough of my one-woman butterfly rehab and took flight, the startling blue flashing with each surreal flap of its massive wings. It reminded me of a manta ray. So huge and graceful and otherworldly. I’ve never seen anything like it. This is the amazing thing about Costa Rica. Everywhere you look there’s life. And not just normal life. Weird, bioluminsecent, multicoloured, frilly, spiky, poisonous, oversized, noisy life. I imagine this is how Darwin felt when he went to the Galapogas Islands for the first time.
Maybe it’s because I’ve been inhaling a lot of insence at yoga school all week but this experience felt very special. How strange to find a rare, giant blue butterfly washed up on the beach, still alive. It MUST mean something deep and spiritual, right?
The omnipresent power of Google tells me that seeing a blue butterfly is a sign that a wish you’ve recently made will be granted. It’s funny because I did recently make a wish or ‘set an intention’ as yogary people call it. The evening previously, we had a fire ceremony which involves writing something we want to let go of down on a piece of paper, and throwing it in a fire to release it to the universe.
The thing I wrote down was related to worrying about what other people think of me. In that I’m fed up of it. Being in such close quarters with a small group of people relentlessly has taken its toll on me far more than the course itself, hence why I ran off to the beach on my own this morning.
I like meeting new people, I like socialising, I like learning about other people’s experiences… but for some reason, probably to do with my inner critic which is an absolute wanker, it takes so much effort for me to piece sentences together, to project my voice confidently, to find the right intonation, to feel relaxed enough to make jokes and be free and easy like everybody else seems to do so naturally. I often feel like I live inside a glass box and I can’t quite get to anyone on the outside. I think I come across as stuck up, shy, maybe a little two dimensional and dull. I want to tell people about the thoughts I have in my head but I shoot them down before they get out, for fear that they’re wrong in some way: boring, or inappropriate. This is silly because a lot of people talk loudly and with confidence about boring things all the time, I’ve noticed. In groups I tend to withdraw, even though I don’t really want to. I want to be involved, I want to know what’s going on and express my opinion, but as I said, I live in a glass box.
I’ve decided I don’t want to beat myself up for this anymore. It’s just the way I am.. I’m an introvert. I’m internal. The friends I have who have had the patience to get to know me (and not let me drift away) love me for who I am. A bit odd, a bit aloof maybe, but they seem to want me in their lives, and that’s what matters, not how I perform in an enforced group dynamic at yoga school.
The Blue Morpho doesn’t go around flashing the blue insides of its wings to everyone all the time. If it did it’d get eaten. The colour is there for a select few other morphos it wants to mate with (metaphor to be taken lightly). We don’t have to dazzle everyone. I shouldn’t expect everyone to like me. I should save it for the people I love, or at least the people who are interested in getting to know me, and feel lucky to have them in my life.
That’s the thing about ‘spirituality’ I suppose. It’s poetic, like religion. Ancient humans made connections between things because there are connections between things. Between everything. Perhaps the butterfly was sent to me by some higher being, or the universe. Perhaps it just got caught up in a wind current and face planted on a bit of sand I happened to be walking past. Deterministic or not, our paths collided, and the butterfly survived a little longer than it might otherwise have done, and I was set on a trail of thought that led me to the realisation that I’m in charge of how I feel, and I don’t have to make a wish and chuck it on a fire. All I have to do is relax, and make peace with myself.