What I remember of my childhood is dark, dim and cloudy. Looking back, I feel like I was a different person and that any memories I have were somehow implanted in my brain. They are so vague and unclear that I cannot truly call them my own for certain. Any semblance of who that person was is gone and the one who has replaced that human shell is somehow still another enigma yet more conscious and aware….and, thankfully, no longer adrift or afraid.
When I was young, I recall feeling empty and lost; struggling to belong; gasping for life’s breath. I questioned, in my child’s mind, if life was supposed to be like that…dank and depressing, grey and dismal like a foggy day that never ends. There was a lot of anger, anxiety and animosity between my parents and I believe that circumstance was the reason for me feeling so lost. I felt their pain and I wanted to help but I didn’t know how.
My older sister was in the same grade as me due to our birth dates. I clung to her for dear life as she seemed to know ‘what to do’ and ‘how to be’. I know I irritated the hell out of her but being a nuisance was better than being alone. It was not until we were separated in our high school years that the cloud was lifted. My reluctant model and protector was no longer accessible. I had no choice. I had to stand on my own two feet. As I met new friends, I sensed a release from the bondage of unknowingness and confusion. I felt the budding of a personality and maybe even an understanding of, or at least an escape from, my parents’ circumstance that hung heavy in our house.
I started to find out who I was, what I could do, where I belonged. I went to a private high school that cost my parents, who basically lived paycheque to paycheque, a fortune. But they never seemed to mind, and they always found the money without complaining. To me, it was worth every penny and more. I wonder if they know that their sacrifice was my liberation?
The decades included a discovery of a love for public speaking, dance, cheer-leading. The years were filled with attending university and travelling as much as I could afford to various places in Canada and Europe. I got married and had two children and lived in several Canadian provinces through my husband’s work. Outside of raising children and work, I found myself continuing to seek out dance, public speaking opportunities, and an interest in financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and personal mastery.
It was not until I was in my forties that I finally started knowing myself and what I wanted out of life, Although I began to find myself, it still took another decade, personal struggle and disease before I blossomed from scared little me to empowered me.
I found my way out of the fogginess, squeezed though the eye of the needle, as it were, and came out the other side, liberated like a butterfly. I have recently realized that my love for the stage, whether pubic speaking or dancing, has been and will continue to be a platform from which to express myself and most importantly to be heard. I was not seen or heard as a child and, without knowing it, have been craving that attention all along.
What has been the most exhilarating about self-discovery is the realization that all my experiences paved the way to the understanding that life’s purpose is to serve others. It has become clear that my mission to perform that task is through the platforms I am most passionate about, the stage and writing.
More profound, is the epiphany that the effectiveness one has in serving is completely, utterly and unequivocally determined by one’s self esteem. To be able to truly serve requires the deepest understanding that self-esteem means the ability to let go of self for the betterment of another. In other words, to serve is to have the capacity to let go of one’s ego, to operate in a plane of gratitude and surrender, and to be willing to be humble and anonymous.
The following is for all of you who suffer in silence, trying to figure out the meaning and worthiness of your life. It will happen, just allow it.
….’and then I grew wings’’, the little butterfly announced with an expression of surprise so innocent and pure, that it caused the fearful caterpillar to beam with delight. For a moment, he forgot his trepidation and felt himself wishing to feel such exuberance. He even found himself lifting a few of his feet up to test the waters and feel what it would be like to be light as air; to be endowed with such miraculous equipment would indeed change his life. Would that such a transformation were to ensue….!!!! He was getting giddy with enthusiasm, light-headed almost, to the point where he nearly fell off the tree branch on which the two brethenly creatures were perched.
Reality came crashing down around him, grounding him to the tree on which he lived. As he grasped for a hold on the life limb that was his existence, the forlorn sense of sluggishness that had dominated his life burdened him once more. ‘Someday’, he thought, ‘someday’.
The little butterfly flitted off, bidding the caterpillar adieu and wishing him a good evening. It was a most natural act but diminutive and hurtful to the caterpillar who begrudgingly mumbled his good-byes. He was envious of the butterfly’s light-heartedness and gift of flight. “Oh, to be so free. Would that it were me.”
The emotional roller-coaster of the day had made the little caterpillar very tired. He began to drift off to sleep, dreaming of soaring through the air, fluttering about aimlessly, like a feather on the wind. He felt the rush of the air past his face, and the excitement of floating aimlessly on the breeze. The exhilaration he experienced at the new-found view of the world drew a tear to his eye and he jolted awake as pain shot through his extremities. The cause of the pain was unknown to him and he began to struggle to flee the imperceptible threat. He tugged and flailed, pushed and pulled, and bore down against a film that seemed to be enveloping him. He was fearing for his life when suddenly, he broke free of the clinging substance, and began hurtling toward the ground. In his panic, his tiny limbs started thrashing about, but to his amazement, his little body began to ascend toward the sky. He kept rising, mounting, climbing, higher and higher, defying the very gravity that almost caused him to smash against the earth.
And then with wild, astonishment, the little caterpillar realized he was a caterpillar no more. During his repose, he had transformed into a most majestic monarch butterfly, broad of wing, slender of body, and full of colour and grace.
by Nadine Hatzitolios McGill
Butterflies are deep and powerful representations of life. Many cultures associate the butterfly with our souls. The Christian religion sees the butterfly as a symbol of resurrection. Around the world, people view the butterfly as representing endurance, change, hope, and life.