The Butterfly of Memory

An extract from my diary of 12th October 2018:

Today, a white butterfly caught my eye as it flew briefly through the tiny garden of our ground-floor flat and as the wee airborne insect fluttered about, I was reminded of an event of many years ago.

It was 1970 and I had just exited the family home in Fitzwilliam Place in Dublin heading towards the city centre. I was on my own and the weather was fine. I remember passing Fitzwilliam Square, an urban haven of greenery, trees and harmony, and as I did so, a white butterfly suddenly landed on my left shoulder. Whilst not breaking my stride, I glanced at this beautiful presence expecting it to fly away at any moment but my impudent yet fine-looking visitor seemed very much at ease on this mobile resting place. 

As a 15-year old boy, I was truly fascinated at what had happened and I did eventually slow down and stopped in my tracks as I couldn't take my eyes off this marvellous interloper still calmly seated on my shoulder. I noticed the outline of its translucent white wings varying in whiteness, its exquisitely-thin body and the two small antennae gently moving to and fro. To and fro. I walked on and I recall an upsurge of happiness inside me as I pondered on why this delicate, tiny creature of the air with gossamer-like wings had chosen me as a new friend; someone to trust.

I wondered if this was an omen of some sort: was I good person or perhaps I might not be a good person and this butterfly was sent as a warning so that I might mend my ways and banish any evil tendencies lurking in my soul. Would I lead a long and happy life, I mused, or would some other pathway be mine? 

My miraculous butterfly remained with me for ages and I felt emboldened with its presence as I left Fitzwilliam Square far behind me. In a way that I couldn't explain, I felt a connection with this new-found companion. I felt happy. Happy.

Then, with a sense of drama to match its exciting arrival, all of a sudden my friendly butterfly flew away and as it faded from my vision, I felt a twinge of sadness that I had lost someone close. I was alone again.

Perhaps, the white butterfly of today just spotted in my compact urban garden was a reincarnation of that Irish winged friend all those years ago. 

 

Comments 6

 
Ken Hartke on Tuesday, 06 November 2018 06:43

Nice memory -- wondrous things happen if we pay attention.

Nice memory -- wondrous things happen if we pay attention.
Nicholas Mackey on Sunday, 11 November 2018 12:25

Hi Ken,
Thank you for reading and commenting. I'm always amazed at how such memories lie buried for years and then something by chance happens to 'flash' them into one's consciousness in an instant. Years melt away and all of a sudden one is reliving an event from childhood that is so crystal clear - the past is so far and yet so close at the same time.

Hi Ken, Thank you for reading and commenting. I'm always amazed at how such memories lie buried for years and then something by chance happens to 'flash' them into one's consciousness in an instant. Years melt away and all of a sudden one is reliving an event from childhood that is so crystal clear - the past is so far and yet so close at the same time.
Rosy Cole on Monday, 12 November 2018 18:26

By some quirk of coincidence, I was thinking about this kind of synchronicity the day you posted this lovely piece. Having spent my childhood - and beyond - in Leicestershire, Bradgate Park in the Charnwood Forest was a favourite venue. It's an incredibly beautiful stretch of the National Forest and famed for being the home of Lady Jane Grey, the 'Nine Days Queen' of England. The red brick ruins of Bradgate House, believed to have been her birthplace, still exist. There was, however, for me, on a path off the larger beaten tracks, a lovely spot that impressed itself and had unaccountable resonance. Imagine my goose-bumps when only three years ago, I discovered a Victorian painting of the exact location when searching for images to complement extracts from one of my books about Leicestershire's Wreake Valley. What did I know that I didn't know? :-)



By some quirk of coincidence, I was thinking about this kind of synchronicity the day you posted this lovely piece. Having spent my childhood - and beyond - in Leicestershire, Bradgate Park in the Charnwood Forest was a favourite venue. It's an incredibly beautiful stretch of the National Forest and famed for being the home of Lady Jane Grey, the 'Nine Days Queen' of England. The red brick ruins of Bradgate House, believed to have been her birthplace, still exist. There was, however, for me, on a path off the larger beaten tracks, a lovely spot that impressed itself and had unaccountable resonance. Imagine my goose-bumps when only three years ago, I discovered a Victorian painting of the exact location when searching for images to complement extracts from one of my books about Leicestershire's Wreake Valley. What did I know that I didn't know? :-)
Nicholas Mackey on Tuesday, 13 November 2018 14:41

Wow, Rosie, what an incredible comment to post and I marvel at the 'personal synchronicity' you describe from your own experience in Leicestershire - the memory of an event that you can now usefully employ in your writing. That's the magical aspect to our craft where the creative verve in us embraces an event or memories from the past which we mould into something unique and our written words then take on a new life, a new existence, a new reality.

Wow, Rosie, what an incredible comment to post and I marvel at the 'personal synchronicity' you describe from your own experience in Leicestershire - the memory of an event that you can now usefully employ in your writing. That's the magical aspect to our craft where the creative verve in us embraces an event or memories from the past which we mould into something unique and our written words then take on a new life, a new existence, a new reality.
Katherine Gregor on Friday, 16 November 2018 12:07

Beautiful piece, Nicholas and I love your synchronicity story, Rosie! I think life has a gentle sense of humour.

Beautiful piece, Nicholas and I love your synchronicity story, Rosie! I think life has a gentle sense of humour.
Nicholas Mackey on Friday, 16 November 2018 23:18

Thank you, Katya for your kind comment.

Thank you, Katya for your kind comment.
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17 June 2020
Thank you for your delightful comment. It is good to reflect on a way of life that has been lost.
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Enjoyed this so much. Charming, evocative, and lyrical.
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