02 June 2016

Besties are butterflies

One of the greatest delights in my brief career as a journalist was writing for the kids' section of 'The Nation'.  I wrote over fifty articles in my last year at that newspaper.  I am thrilled to resume the series for www.nightowls.lk.  The series is for children but not 'strictly for children'. Adults, consider yourselves warned...you might re-discover a child within you!  Scroll down for other articles in this series.

The accepted wisdom is that if you want to catch a butterfly, you shouldn’t chase it.  Instead, you are advised to remain still with your palm stretched out.  A butterfly might flitter from flower to flower and at some point settle down on your palm for a few seconds or maybe more.  It may not of course, but there’s a better chance this way, they say. 

It’s the same with ‘besties’.  Think about all the friends you’ve had in your life.  Think about the ‘best friends’ from your daycare days, through kindergarten, junior and high school and beyond.  Ask yourself how many ‘best friends’ you’ve had.  If it’s more than 1 then perhaps you should ask yourself ‘what does best friend mean?’ 

One can have a best friend and a new best friend every year or even every month but that would make the term ‘best friend’ or ‘bestie’ a little ridiculous, don’t you think?  Maybe it’s just that when we are very young we desperately need a ‘friend’ who we can show the world claiming he or she is ‘my best friend’.  So the first person who is friendly gets the label.  It’s a bonus if that ‘friend’ also happens to be popular.  You can be more proud of yourself when this happens. 

But what does it really mean when a best friend is no longer a best friend? If a best friend becomes just another friend or else not even considered a friend after a while, what does it mean?  Doesn’t it mean that you didn’t actually know your best friend or that he or she didn’t know you or, worse, you didn’t know each other? 

Maybe it’s like going after a butterfly.   You try hard to catch it, you fail, and then you catch a grasshopper and tell yourself ‘I’ve finally caught a butterfly, yippee!’  It’s like wearing a dress or a shirt with a floral pattern hoping that the butterfly will be fooled.  Butterflies are not fooled.  They can tell the difference.  You might attract a few flies or some mosquitoes but that’s not on account of the flowers on the dress or shirt. 

Best friends are butterflies.  You have to be patient.  Those friends that stay are usually the ones that come because they’ve recognized that there’s something fragrant about you, something colourful and beautiful.  They won’t say ‘hello’ just because everyone says ‘hello’ to you.  It’s not about how popular you are.  It’s all about who you are. 

Besties are butterflies and therefore it might be interesting to see yourself as a butterfly.  If you do, would you go for fake flowers or artificial fragrances?  No, a butterfly knows all about flowers, real flowers.  

Now think about the true friends you’ve had and how they became your friends.  Think of flowers and butterflies.  Ask if either this friend or you were a butterfly.  Ask if either this friend or you were a flower.  Ask yourself if it was real or fake.  The chances are that the friends who stayed and who became ‘besties’ are those who liked you for who you are and not who you made yourself out to be.  And if it was you that sought out someone who later became a good friend, the chances are that you remained with them not for their frills but their true selves. 

Butterfly besties.  They are the best, don’t you think?  

Other articles in this series
A puddle is a canvas
Venus-Serena tied at love-all
Some jokes are not funny
There's an ant story waiting for you
And you can be a rainbow-maker
Trees are noble teachers
On cloudless nights the moon is a hole
Gulp down those hurtful words
A question is a boat, a jet, a space-ship or a heart
Quotes can take you far but they can also stop you
No one is weak
The fisherman in a black shirt
Let's celebrate Nelli and Nelliness
Ready for time travel?
Puddles look back at you, did you know?
What's the view like from your door?
The world is rearranged by silhouettes
How would you paint the sky?
It is cool to slosh around
You can compose your own music
Pebbles are amazing things
You can fly if you want to
The happiest days of our lives
So what do you want to do with the rain?
Still looking for that secret passage?
Maybe we should respect the dust we walk on
Numbers are beautiful 
There are libraries everywhere 
Collect something crazy
Fragments speak of a thousand stories 
The games you can and cannot play with rice
The magic of the road less-traveled
Have you ever thought of forgiving?
Wallflowers are pretty, aren't they?
What kind of friend do you want to be? 
Noticed the countless butterflies around you?
It's great to chase rainbows
In praise of 'lesser' creatures 
A mango is a book did you know?
Expressions are interesting things
How many pairs of eyes do you need?
So no one likes you?
There is magic in faraway lights
The thambilil-seller of Giriulla
When people won't listen, things will
Lessons of the seven-times table



Anonymous said...

The bud
murmured 'hello'
to all the creatures
not heard though
some were bees,honey suckers
mosquitoes and flies too ...

real once
with unfolded petals
with welcome gaze
they sat
on soft petals...

had exchanges
beautiful and lovable ..

'Life is too short'
butterfly whispered
with a
deep breath
when its feet touched
the last
they saw each other ...

caterpillars and buds
are counting days ...

sun is rising
setting too
life is gone and going
and yet to be borne .....