A round, average-looking rock sat quietly on the ground under a tall cherry blossom tree next to a small rushing stream. It had no place to go, for obvious reasons, yet had developed a curious nature for wanderlust. In it’s lifetime it had seen the land evolve and dissolve and rebuild itself a number of times over. Stuck in isolation, it did not know mobility personally though. Gravity kept it in its place for years and from this it had developed a sense of longing. It knew that time existed somehow, unlike other rocks, and even understood that there was a current at which the days passed. Sun up, sun down, again and again. It could feel the beating heat of summer and the winter winds that came on later.
But as the moon passed through it’s phases, the rock stayed solitary in it’s gaze day after day. It had a good view of a field across from the stream where wild animals often frolicked. It had witnessed birth and death in more ways than one, but still could not understand the speed at which things changed. The pacing of life was still a foreign affair to this large compressed piece of dust.
And so it was to the rock’s surprise when one afternoon a blue butterfly landed on it and stayed there for the rest of the day. Eventually, to the agitation of the rock, who did not understand why a butterfly would want to stay still for so long, it annoyingly asked:
“What are doing?”
Startled, the butterfly fluttered it’s wings quickly, stopped and replied,
“I’m taking a rest.”
“For this long?” The rock responded.
“Well yes, of course. I cannot understand where I am going next until I take a long deep breath.”
“But you have wings to see the world with. You could spend the rest of your life moving along from rock to rock taking deep breaths. Why waste yourself in this one place for so long?”
The butterfly chuckled, fluttered it’s wings a little and responded,
“I already know how to move. What keeps me on this rock is that I don’t know how to stay in one place.”
“That doesn’t make any sense.” The rock argued.
“Listen, rock. I came into this world during the middle of a windstorm. My chrysalis was on the edge of a tree branch almost about to snap. From the moment I flapped my wings for the first time I had to fight the wind. I was blown here and there and all over, but I never saw where I came from.”
“And that is why you want to stay in one place. I get it.” The rock annoyingly said.
“You should listen before you speak. Clearly there is something more I mean to say. I am surprised to meet a rock so eager and quick to assume answers when it has a lifespan that will out number mine more than ten fold.” The butterfly retorted.
“No disrespect, butterfly, but you waste my patience with your words. I cannot understand how something that has the ability to move would want to stay still.”
“Well, when the wind directs you for most of your life it’s hard to believe why you wouldn’t want to stay still for a little while at least. I don’t desire change the way you do, rock. My life is shorter than yours, so with every passing minute I am closer to the end faster than you are. This rest I take… this long breath of air is for me to take control. Once I set flight into the sky again the wind will direct and persuade me. And then I don’t get to see what I want. I only get to go where it forces me. My wings are delicate but resilient, and yet I still cannot fight the wind’s direction.”
“Be that as it may, you get to see so many things in this world that I will never. And so I still can’t understand your ways, butterfly. Take your breath and leave. There is life to be seen. Don’t waste your time on my surface. I only see the same things over and over on repeat.” The rock said with a sigh of indignation.
“On the contrary, dear rock, the repetition you speak of is change itself. You have an understanding for where things begin and end. I don’t know where I came from and the end is coming sooner for me than you. Imagine for one moment that your life was compressed into the amount of time I am able to live. I am in a state of influx for the entirety of my life, it’s true, but with so much transition I don’t really understand what is changing. I fly by too fast to get a chance to take a look long enough to realize what is around me. And so that is why I sit here for so long and take a rest, because at least the view that this stillness offers lets me realize that things are what they are. And for this afternoon I want to take a good long look.”
The butterfly fluttered it’s wings slightly again as the rock replied,
“I see what you mean to say now, butterfly. But imagine for a moment, yourself, that you could not move; that you were stuck when you desired so much more. How desperate you would become. My patience runs out because I am tired of waiting in one place. I am tired of seeing things change around me without being able to change myself.”
“But don’t you understand, rock. You are changing.” The butterfly said surprised. “For something that exists for so long, I cannot understand your lack of wisdom for the obvious.”
“What do you mean?” The rock asked confused.
“It’s very simple really. With every rainstorm, with every change of season you are changing too. The water that pours and drips onto your surface erodes a part of you every time.”
The rock had never thought of this before. Up to this point it had only paid attention to the change surrounding it from the solitary gaze at which it was stuck in.
“It’s only a matter of time before you become dust again, dear rock. But at least you know exactly where you came from.” The butterfly ended.
And with that, in frustration, the butterfly flew away for it did not know quite yet, but felt somehow, that today would be it’s last. So it left the rock to it’s thoughts and allowed the wind to persuade it along away into another new direction one last time again.
Michelle Lee Proksell