Monday, September 10, 2012

Herding Butterflies and Messages from the Dead

After I got mixed up about a couple of writing programs the other day, I was prepared to put together a post about software. I also had plans to write a follow-up post to the one I wrote for writers on choosing the “bad guy” in a mystery.

Mysteries have always fascinated me. From my early days of playing “Clue,” to composing code letters to a childhood friend, to people watching and examining all the angles of why people behave the way they do.

Yes, I was going to do all of these things. But then butterflies got in my way. Well, butterflies and messages from beyond.

Yesterday, I had what felt like a very long dream visit from a friend of mine who died five years ago. He’s been popping up a lot over the past week; bits of his name on license plates or in subject line of random emails, running into people who have the same energy that he had or remind me of him in some way. And then I had that dream.

First let me explain: A few days ago was my dad’s death anniversary. I always feel a little off on holidays now, but his death anniversary throws me off even more. Oddly, my friend, who happened to die the day after my dad died, often shows up in my dreams where bits of his life are mixed with that of my dad. It’s not like he and my dad were close. I think they met once or twice.

Anyway, in the beginning of my dream I went to the post office to pick up a letter composed by my friend. I was charged $35 for it, and after I paid, my friend appeared behind me, so I scolded him, asking why he couldn’t have just given it to me in person.

I won’t bore you with all of the dream details, but near the end of the dream, a business man appeared who was talking about a significant day that he wouldn’t be able to work. That day happened to be my dad’s birth date.

So all day I pondered the meaning behind this dream.

And then butterflies showed up. Three times to be exact. And when things keep popping up in front of me, I figure there has to be a message somewhere.

How do butterflies relate to the dream? The dream put me into analytical, super-sensitive mode, observing details of things around me.

The first butterfly flew by at a moment when I was in deep thought about the dream.

The next butterfly appeared in a story I read about a clerk at Macy’s who, when she couldn’t locate one for her customer to buy, gave her own butterfly necklace to the woman. The customer had lost a baby and butterflies reminded her of this lost child. She referred to butterflies as angels, and then later in the story, the customer called the clerk an angel.

The third one was a random butterfly photo that popped up in front of me when I was working on my computer. But it was on the site of a friend of mine who has views of life similar to mine and our connection with the spiritual world.

It’s easy to guess the meaning behind butterflies when considering the metamorphosis they go through. After developing the chrysalis, they seem to be waiting while the transformation is taking place. However, they are not waiting at all. The caterpillar body is transforming into a butterfly. And after it emerges from the chrysalis, it goes through another process as noted here in Butterfly School, “The butterfly must pump fluids from its abdomen through the veins in its wings, which causes the wings to expand to their full size. Next, the wings must dry and the butterfly must exercise flight muscles before it can fly.”

They break free to show themselves off to the world and to experience freedom.

Now I think about the significance behind this dream visit and butterflies.

Over the last several months, I have been helping to develop a new website for writers, founded by a woman who has often commented that she is “herding butterflies.” The work has been mind-expanding, confidence-building; it’s helping me to develop my wings.

Yes, my deceased friend could have been hanging (flying?) around merely as comfort during this difficult week of death anniversaries.

Or maybe he was helping bring my attention to the butterflies, prodding me on to study their meaning to help me realize I am finding my way out, and one day will emerge, embracing who I was meant to be.

On the other hand, sometimes I think that he - and my other deceased family and friends - send me these signals as a game to see if I can figure out their mystery. They all laugh as they watch me analyze the meaning behind their visits and symbols.

Really, they are helping to sharpen my mystery-solving skills. Because that’s what friends do. They support your endeavors. I think it’s kind of cool mine are doing it from another plane. And if I listen carefully, they might even tell me who the "bad guy" is.

(Oh, by the way, I composed this blog post in Word, the program that I use most often when I write. Stay tuned for that post about writing software. It’s coming soon. Once I can pull my head out of the clouds.)




  1. Linda,
    I think I enjoy the concept of herding butterflies more than herding kittens. I often think of my Mom as being my guardian angel and then get mad when she doesn't make things happen the way I think they should. Nice, huh? I enjoyed your post.

  2. To me a butterfly is the symbol strength and of a second chance. A symbol of renewed vision and path. What was once a caterpillar under the feet of the world and in constant danger of being trampled, is now a creature of freedom, flight, and beauty. See...what once felt lowly and little now feels lofty and free. We have all had times in our lives that made us feel like caterpillars. It is when we survive those times, gain knowledge, and learn life lessons along the way that we truly learn how to fly. Flutter away and be free in the understanding that bad times or good, your family and friends are fluttering nearby.

  3. Linda, Carol (The Wife), and Brooke, you three along with Amy, Khara, and April have done some magnificent butterfly wrangling over the past several months. I consider us all founders as well as the folks that will receive the new banner for their blog/web sites. It is a group undertaking.

    Butterflies to me are about a well-deserved celebration of life's journey. The critter starts out as an egg and then turns into a grub and on to a caterpillar to finally take wing. That is the epitome of heavy-lifting in the personal growth department. Not all of those stages are pretty either. But they are necessary. And when finally it can stretch its wings and celebrate, it can spread joy and hope in its own accomplishment but also encourage those still in wing-development. Even better, it can bestow a sense of freedom and beauty to those who will never be able to grow wings themselves.

    Writing isn't an act of self-indulgence. It is world creation. Thank you so much for all of your acts of creativity and compassionate caring and sharing.