I remember, when I was a bit younger, hearing that the life of a butterfly, once freed from the prison of its cocoon, lived for only a day. I’m not sure how true that is as the Monarch Butterfly lives for six months, if memory serves. Even if it is rarely true it is still an interesting fact. I always wondered if that single day of life felt like a single day to the flutterby? Does it feel as short as it sounds?
When I was about the age of 10 years I was struck by a strange near fatal illness. I have always been under the impression that it was diphtheria, but I don’t know that as fact. When I think about the butterfly flutteringby for its single day I wonder how long that passing day seems to the little critter. I wonder if the butterfly can even conceive of the notion of time much less one as complicated as ours. I wonder what it would be like for a lifetime to be such that the first half occurred in the light and the second half in the dark. There is a point to this, I think.
We humans are quite curious in the way we understand our world. Appointments, work schedules, bank accounts, credit cards, maps and countries are just a few numbers we use in almost every moment of our existence. Nations, distance between cities and the diameter of our little planet and even the date of our birth and death are other numbers we use often. Complicated ideas like force and velocity are also based on these strange numbers. Weight, which is the effect of gravity on mass, length, height and time allow us as intelligent beings to develop an understanding of our reality. These things, weight, length, time are metrics or units of measure are created by we humans and we accept them for the sake of simplicity. They do not exist on their own in nature, there is a tree that grows yard sticks, meters, kilogram measures or seconds. In my experience that is where the weirdness begins.
I don’t feel the passage of time naturally. A clock does it for me but with out one I have no sense of time what so ever, unless I am smoking, tobacco. Yes, I know it is bad for me. Its been like that since my breakdown. Maybe it was different in the respect of feeling times passage pre-breakdown but I have no point of reference, after all it was a long time ago.
I know this sounds crazy.
Really it came home to me after my fathers passing, when the ancient photos of a life so foreign to me came back out into the world. I knew the people in the photographs and yet I didn’t know them. They were like a glimpse into a world that never existed even though I was pretty sure they had.
Over these many years with my strange occasional bouts of melancholy as though something had been lost, a thing that could never be regained, I found myself wondering as to the very nature of that thing. After The old man’s death, when I became the old man, that sense had become exquisite ad sweet like some exotic food or strained alien mental sensation.
I wondered if I too was dead.
Would I know if I were?
Have my last many years of life been like that of the butterfly, just a day or a few hours as death was in the process of taking me? I don’t think I would know the difference. We have such definite ideas about the world but all of them are based on the measurement of our perceptions.
I find my self perplexed by the idea that these many years may be nothing more than phantasms of my dying brain. My wife and friends and all these efforts to express my thoughts and even my brothers all figments of a sequence of neurons firing in those last few minutes while I lay in a hospital at the age of ten dying.
Does any of this really matter?
I think not.
Look for your Muse. Only she can be your guide.