By Kirsten Howard and Butterfly(s)

Started on: 04/23/10 14:39:50
Medium: Other

Over the summer, I visited the new Academy of Sciences at San Francisco. There is a large glass dome shaped structure within the academy, and inside they have a rainforest exhibit. There are rainforest trees, plants, and butterflies. While inside, I stood patiently watching the butterflies fly overhead, hoping that one would land on me. But none of them were landing on anyone, and so I gave up trying to make it happen and continued walking through the exhibit. Then, at one point I looked down at my arm, and noticed a very very large purple and blue butterfly sitting on me. I closed my eyes and meditated with it, wanting to feel the presence of its spirit, and wanting to give it something of myself as gratitude for the experience. I continued to walk around the exhibit, and it stayed with me the entire time. Eventually a half hour or more had passed with this butterfly on my arm. When I had to leave, one of the staff helped me gently take it off and I said goodbye to it and thanked it with my heart. The staffer told me about the species of butterfly, and that it only lived something like a week. Knowing this made it feel like an even more profound experience, just knowing that it had spent a relatively big chunk of its life with me. But I knew that it spirit was a renewed one, and one that would be renewed into something else after the week. It was a really beautiful experience, that I feel I cannot give justice to with words.

I am planning to go to the butterfly grove in Goleta this weekend where there are many butterflies in the Spring, and I'll see if any decide to land on me, and if not, I will just study them. I've heard that they are attracted to bright clothes, so I'll wear something bright so that they can enjoy the experience and so that I can have a greater chance of one landing on me. I will just see what comes out of the experience and bring my camera to document it.
[Write Comment]

Comment by LisaJ (05/02/10 09:26:01):
The discrepancy in lifespan that you point out is very interesting and it does make your interactions quite poetic. I think you could expand on that idea together with other species. Do something together and reflect in some way on the amount of time spent by you and by them. It could be represented through charts and text but also through how you set the interaction up. For example, the exact amount time you spend with each species could be a direct reflection of their lifespan rather than yours. So you might be doing something for a second with a butterfly and an hour with a dog, and an hour and 20 minutes with a cat etc. Or the opposite, doing something a set amount of time and then reflect on how much time that is in their life through how you document the experience, maybe taking a set amount of pictures per percentage unit of the relative time you spent with them. So many more pictures with a butterfly than with a cat.