“Happiness is like a butterfly; the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.”
– Henry David Thoreau
I don’t remember how I got it but I held on to a magnet with this quote like it was a lifesaver during my teenage years when I was convinced I would never find love. A hopeless romantic drowned in Nicholas Sparks books, I fantasized about my future love life like it was a movie waiting to be filmed. Looking back, I wish I could tell my young self that love is not always like it’s depicted in the books, a lot of times it can be so much more beautiful and raw, lighting us up in incredible ways. Still, I did not know that back then so I clutched my magnet and tried not to chase the butterfly too hard.
Fast forward over a decade later, and I am struck again by this quote but from a totally new perspective. My entire life I’ve been told to chase the career butterfly, so much that it’s been a subconscious effort most of the time. Work hard, keep climbing, don’t settle, go, go, go. It has just recently dawned on me (thanks to some great people in my life) that this aspect of my life is also a butterfly. That’s not to say that a dream job will “come and sit softly on my shoulder” if I turn my attention to playing Nintendo Switch instead (it doesn’t hurt to try though) but more like, what can life bring you towards when you are guided by curiosity and joy?
As someone who has always been obsessing about finding your passion and has had to endure a few hits during her career, this idea almost goes against everything my brain has been conditioned to follow in life. Even as I write these words, I struggle to understand what this butterfly means to me and what “turning your attention to other things” looks like in reality. My words are not answers, at least they don’t feel that way to me yet, but maybe they can help drive awareness to your chase and make you question (in the best way possible) your own butterflies.
I wrote the above about three months ago and while I still don’t have all the answers I am happy to report that life is full of little butterflies. Some you can only notice when you take a moment to really look for them, others are only able to catch you when you purposefully slow down your life. All are beautiful and worth admiring. May wonderful things come rest softly on your shoulder in this season of life. 🙂
Photo by Lana Kravchenko: https://www.pexels.com/photo/a-yellow-and-brown-butterfly-on-purple-flower-12889060/