“Do we travel the world to find a friend? Do we travel with a friend to find ourselves again in another place, another time? Instead of a place, we discover a dimension of our heart.” ~ Maria Lehtman
Discovering what friendship truly is.
For 30 years I have traveled in search of peace. To find happiness. To rekindle a friendship. To discover inspiration. Or simply: to find the sun.
I felt a better person returning from a relaxing vacation in a beautiful destination. Until one day, I had to start discovering who that person was without the destinations – enduring the long, cold winters in the north. Life became smaller when the world shrunk to more or less 60 kilometers from where I lived. It was also a challenge to a long and adventurous friendship.
I felt disappointed and trapped. And yet, there was a small part of me that was almost relieved. I did not miss the hurdles of traveling after the security measures were tightened, leg space got smaller, in-flight food scarce, airports expensive, flight schedules unpredictable….
Life became smaller when the world shrunk to more or less 60 kilometers from where I lived. It was a challenge to a long and adventurous friendship.
A long-term relationship is often described as ‘steady.’ People are emotional, living, breathing, evolving beings. Everything changes. It is the nature’s way. There is nothing steady about a human being.
This constant transformation creates an opportunity and a challenge. I realized I needed a new way to live in our relationship, and both of us needed to adapt.
What does a butterfly teach us about mindfulness and friendship?
There is no shortcut to coping with a significant change in life. Especially when it impacts our job, home security, health or other major conditions. The mind is searching for a way out. This is the moment when we most need to find a quiet place within us. It is also the most difficult situation to be still when concern, or even panic, fill our thoughts.
Eventually, I learned to be still. I stopped looking back at what I had in the past. Well, too frequently anyway. I opened new channels in social media and started writing regularly. I stopped following other people’s ideas of a perfect career, home, condition, diet. I ceased pushing to find answers if it took too much energy.
I went back to my photographic vault and looked for metaphors. A butterfly is a perfect sample of self-transformation. Our little friends find their way even to the cold north, if only for a short period during the light summer nights.
If you find yourself in a self-transformation state, needing to rekindle meaningful relationships – Here are a few tools I learned from our winged-fairie-like friends:
1. Coping with the past. Butterfly’s transformation is typically rapid. Similarly to our lives, when changes occur – they multiply. In a cycle of change, be prepared to confront your past. Events will impact the mind and typically awaken old memories. You will find yourself in similar circumstances you have had in the past, however, remember: you are no longer the same person! You have the experience to lean on.
2. Preparing for the marathon. Some butterfly species, oddly enough, have a longer life and transformation cycle in colder areas. While the situation in your life may seem unfavorable, it typically is not. Our mind and body can adapt to both rapid and slow changes. However, in healing a slower pace is usually better for the body. The slower pace allows our ecosystem of physique and mind to adjust to a permanent, longer term change. Pace yourself to adapt to a new life. Meditate or learn to breathe calmly when you get too anxious.
3. Finding your inspiration. Butterflies navigate using a time-compensated sun compass. Cloudy weather is not an obstacle as they can see polarized light. Find your light. By light, I mean finding your inspiration, hope, character. Think about the wonderful things you were interested as a child. Whether your hope is rekindled by pets, art, photography, fishing, cooking, listening to music, building miniature models – take, at least, one of your inspiration areas back to your life.
4. Discovering your diet. Butterflies feed primarily on nectar from flowers. A migrating monarch butterfly can travel up to 4’800 km. The migrating generation (fall) has larger wings, more fat and free lipids in the hemeolymph. The right nutrition is critical in cycles of rapid change. I let go of nearly all sugar (except for occasional Indian or coconut sugar), fat, red meat, and most grains. I am still drinking only water, as much as I can (boiled & filtered). Water works as a shield to our immune system. You cannot find the right diet in a book or online. You need to explore, but at the end, the best clues come from your mind and body.
5. Sustaining your energy. Butterflies are experts collecting solar power* to keep warm and using the winds for optimal gliding. In normal circumstances, sickness would sap all your energy – with the right diet some of the energy is preserved because your body is not using all of it to digestion. We have ca. 300 millions of processes in our digestion system, many of them will break down in high stress and affect the nervous system. The only way to keep enough energy is to save energy. Sometimes saving means spending it to exercise, but in a hectic change cycle, you always need to preserve enough energy for your body to adjust. There is no compromise.
6. Finding your true friends. The butterfly is often seen as a symbol of a person’s soul or a transformation state of a soul – in living or dying. Self-transformation is all about who you are, and who is in your life. Sometimes coping with a larger change requires you to disconnect with people. Never burn bridges behind you. You cannot do that without harming yourself. You can and should distance yourself from people who cause you stress. Find a way to work or deal with them so that you don’t lose energy.
Find out who your real friends are. How do you feel when thinking about a loved one? Does your pulse or breathing react? Do you feel happier, calmer thinking about them? is there something you need to discuss or agree.
Self-transformation is like building a new vase from broken pieces. Eventually, it becomes whole again, but the vessel is never the same as it was before. It is usually much better. More learned, experienced, patient and understanding. A soul with wings – with colors of day or night, as long as they are your colors.
Wishing you strength and courage finding your true self!
“What the caterpillar calls the end of the world the master calls a butterfly.” ~ Richard Bach
CAMERA DATA: PHUKET. NIKON D200. SHUTTER 1/60S. F-STOP: F/3.2. MAX F/3.1. APERTURE PRIORITY. ISO 200. FOCAL 105.0 MM. LENS 105.0 MM. FLASH. METERING PATTERN.
Ref. Weekly Photo-Challenge by Daily Post: Friend.