Wednesday, May 15, 2013
I am 32 years old now. That number makes no sense to me. It's as if 32 is some foreign language I don't speak. How can I be 32? I still feel 16. Or 21. Or 27. But 32??? No. Not me. I cannot be 32.
By the time she was 32, my mother was married for 12 years. I was already in pre-school and she just had my little brother. She and my dad owned their home, they had full time jobs, they took care of their sick parents. My mom was a grown up at 32. I spent the day at the zoo.
Sure, I ran my first 5K. Yeah, I was spending my birthday weekend with friends. It was new and different and exciting, but let's face it --- I'm a giant child. Don't get me wrong, I love my life. It's fun and every day surprises me. My time is filled with all the things and people that make me happy. I have the best job in the world. My friends are awesome. My family is super supportive. I have the freedom to go where I want, when I want, and do what I want with who I want. Doesn't sound too terrible, does it? Yet I'm still stuck missing that one special person to share these fantastic experiences with.
Wow. I sound like a cliche from The Bachelor! I wish I could erase that sentence, but it doesn't make the sentiment any less true. I look at my mom and the life she built, what she was surrounded with by the time she was 32 and I can't help but compare. I've been trying so hard to make it happen. Is it possible I've been trying TOO hard???
I sketched this blog out in my head the day I ran the 5K at the Bronx Zoo. All my life, I've wanted to visit a Butterfly Garden. For one reason or another, it just hasn't worked out. But the Birthday Fairies must've been watching over me because my best friend treated me to an afternoon surrounded by butterflies. Surrounded by love.
Butterflies symbolize so much to me. Metamorphosis. Change. The belief that life is so much more amazing on the other side, if we have enough faith to leave behind everything we know and love. If we are unafraid to stop being caterpillars, that is when we blossom. That is when we bloom. That is when we become butterflies.
Needless to say, super emotional 32 year old Kimberly wound up in tears. For once though, they were happy tears. Walking into the butterfly garden, I was a little overwhelmed. The thing I'd been looking forward to seeing for so long was finally close enough to touch. It was all around me. I was there...finally, truly, completely there. I didn't have to use my imagination anymore. The beauty in front of my eyes was more incredible than anything I could've dreamed up anyway.
The first few moments were really hard to focus. There were so many butterflies, I didn't know where to look. One would land on a leaf, and before I could take a breath to appreciate it, that one would fly away and another would land on a flower next to me. A few butterflies flew right at my head and I was so unprepared for them, I actually swatted the poor things away!!! Can you believe it? I was as terrified as though I was in a cave full of bats instead of a flower garden full of my favorite critters on the planet.
After a while, I found my place among the flowers and found the peace to just sit still. I stopped swatting at the buzzes past my head. I stopped looking from one flower to the next and just focused on my breathing. I stopped running from one bush to the other to the other, hoping to snap a photo of a butterfly or two in action. I just sat there and let them come to me. Do you know, the most amazing thing happened next. They did!
The butterflies started landing on me, first one and then another. Some paused momentarily on my arm, then flitted away as quickly as they came. Some even landed on the wrong side of my camera, taunting me that I could see them up close, but I'd never get a picture to prove it. One landed on my shoulder and perched there for a while, surprising me with the length of time she stayed. A year or more ago, I gave the advice to a reader to be still and let a butterfly land on her shoulder. I wasn't really sure about what I was saying, but it felt intensely true. I have never been so happy to be proven right in my life.
All this time, I've been running at love with arms wide open, chasing it down like a runaway train. What have I learned from these mistakes? Sit down. Be patient. Love isn't like a fugitive you have to chase and capture. You can't put your future under arrest and hold it in a jail cell. Love is like a butterfly that constantly eludes the net. If you just sit quietly for a bit, and you're very still, and very lucky, love will simply come and land on your shoulder.