The Tale of the Invisible Butterfly


How does it happen that a butterfly becomes invisible?

Invisibility attends beauty more often than you may think, my friend, a cloak that often hides the unique beauties, the profound beauties of this world. True beauty noticed by no one. Yes, it happens around us every day – and not only to butterflies.

So you may find some small interest in this small story of one smallish yellow butterfly who outgrew her yellow smallishness. And as she turned beautiful, uniquely and profoundly beautiful, she instantly became invisible.

You see, when the butterfly first had emerged from the chrysalis her smallish wings appeared ordinary enough. Even to her own new eyes, yes, her new butterfly wings looked a faded yellow that resembled the discolored paper of an old book. (She would learn of this resemblance after flying past humans who were reading discolored old books.)

Faded-paper yellow or not, the butterfly noticed that everyone noticed her. For some reason.

Children would follow the faded butterfly as she butterflew through the garden. Adults would smile as the faded butterfly landed on pentas and passionflowers to sip flower nectar or to lay her eggs. Other faded yellow butterflies danced with her mid-air. Mockingbirds warbled medleys of tunes and squirrels chuckled their approval whenever the smallish faded yellow butterfly appeared.

Oh yes, everyone noticed her then: A yellow butterfly that looked just pretty enough to look the same as all the other yellow butterflies looked in that garden. Like them, she had been predictably, comfortably, unremarkably pleasant to have around. Yes, everyone noticed her then.

But after two weeks of smallish faded yellow-colored life, this particular butterfly began to change. And so did the behavior of everything and everyone around her. For some reason.

Those smallish drab-yellowed wings widened and thickened and soon took on new shades and new hues with each new day that came and went. The butterfly had grown into a cascade of purples and oranges, of blues and greens, at once subtle and vibrant, shimmering as she floated through stands of garden sunlight for everyone to admire.

The butterfly watched herself becoming something nobody could have predicted. Something unique. Something profound.

Something no one could see.

But why? How does it happen that beauty is visible in inverse proportion to its depth and singularity? The deeper and the more unlikely its qualities, the harder to observe.

Ah, that question is one of the curious questions of this life. The obvious beauties are welcomed, the deeper beauties are most often ignored. For some reason.

Or perhaps they are simply unseen. That surely was the case in this case of the invisible butterfly.

Yes, the children who had followed and the adults who had smiled no longer saw the butterfly flying at all. No faded yellow butterflies danced with her mid-air. No mockingbirds warbled, no squirrels chuckled in the garden when she appeared all vibrant and shimmering in the sunlight.

No one noticed any part of her deepening beauty. And the invisible butterfly felt sad from this. She felt very very sad. For what good was an unnoticed butterfly?

During days and long days more, the invisible butterfly nonetheless butterfloated invisibly through the garden. Sipping her nectar and laying her eggs, each day vibrating more colorfully beneath the sunlight. Still unwatched and still unappreciated, of course. And still sad, very very sad because she was so very very beautiful.

It is a sadness that may ring familiar to some who come across this small tale, whether or not they live in a garden.

The invisible butterfly soon felt so sad that she felt as if she never wanted to fly again. No one could see how beautiful she was, no one cared whether she flew through the garden. What did it matter anyway?

Until she remembered something, until she remembered two somethings really.

Yes, the invisible butterfly remembered that she sipped her nectar and remembered also that she laid her eggs. And each day she did this, the garden was becoming a little prettier than the day before. Because she was there.

After all, even an invisible butterfly carries pollen from flower to flower, plant to plant, so that more flowers and plants will grow. And even an invisible butterfly’s eggs turn into caterpillars that turn into more butterflies, mostly into butterflies completely and fully visible to everyone.

Maybe it did matter, after all.

Maybe nobody ever would know which butterfly had helped grow the flowers and plants, which butterfly had made so many of those very visible butterflies. But everyone would see the garden as it became a little prettier each new day.

And maybe that’s all anything uniquely and profoundly and invisibly beautiful can ever hope to do.

And maybe that’s enough.

Moral: Though no one may understand us as we truly are, our efforts to help others make a difference.