We must capitalize on today’s little victories or life’s small frustrations will be our undoing. Take for example the task of teasing apart Christmas tree lights or coping with a garden hose, not to mention catching your sleeve on the drawer pull and watching an entire cup of tea – complete with wet leaves – crash to the floor and flow with fervor under the Viking gas range.
A HAPPY ENDING
Yesterday, while I was swimming my daily laps in the warm delicious water, I spotted a butterfly floating and flapping in my path. My heart picked up speed as I slowed my approach. I watched this magical creature glimmering yellow against the aqua liquid. With the attention of someone preparing to defuse a bomb, I cupped my hands and ever so gently managed to lift her up without damaging her wings. (I’ve tried this in the past only to end up dunking the fragile little being.) Tenderly and in slow motion, I set the tremulous body on the brown tile at the pool’s edge. (Fortunately, we were on the shallow end.) Perilously she perched there, her gauzy lemon-colored wings looked ephemeral against the brick tile. One mindless deep breath and she would tumble back into the drink. A breeze or a bird fluttering by innocently would bring her gossamery demise.
Time was suspended. I stood still, barely breathing. My lower body was ensconced in the warm womb of water; my shoulders shuddered in the thin spring sunlight. I positioned my hands underneath her. If she fell, I would be poised for the rescue, but this time I would deposit her further from danger — maybe on a bamboo leaf or a blade of zebra grass where her quivering wings would be fully exposed to the healing air. I considered trying to ease her up a little higher to stabilize her position, but knew that interference would not be to her advantage. Her wing might tear as a result of my good intentions. I have learned that trying to help is only beneficial when right effort is balanced with discrimination, patience and wise restraint, however awkward it may feel at the time. So I just stood there watching her hang on for life, while she fluttered her papery wings so subtly they seemed to brush the air with kisses. I shifted my feet and shivered but held the safety net of my hands steady.
Ten minutes passed, and again I had to resist the urge to reposition her, this time with the use of a dry bamboo leaf I spied within grasp. A short debate, and I decided in this case, less was more. I would leave it to nature. So with a pang of guilt, I resumed my laps, moving away from her before immersing.
On my return, I reluctantly lifted my head to see if she was back in the water or had flown away. I surveyed the water’s surface, submerged to my eyeballs like a crocodile to improve my line of vision. No lemon-colored wings in sight. She was free. Hurrah! A little victory bien sur. A warm swell of satisfaction flowed through me as I cut across the water picking up speed and kicking with abandon.
I was thinking: Even though letting go is the flavor of the month and the fashionable thing to do, sometimes in order to survive, we just have to hang on. The trick is to hang on while you let your wings delicately flutter and caress the breeze. Another reminder that I must continue to commit to life on a daily basis, and at the same time
be secure enough in my faith to ease my grip, again and again.
More About Less Is More
I remember drawing a cartoon for the Medford Mail Tribune, our local rag, that began: “Is less really more? No! Less is not more. More is more…” Since a picture is worth a thousand of these, I’ll let it speak for itself.
Just for today, let’s celebrate life’s little victories.