Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Chasing Butterflies

I met Liza, my friend, for a coffee at the Wimpy last week.  The first thing she asked after she had sat down wearily was "What is all this for?  All this rushing around, chasing after the one goal after the other?"  Liza is the manager of a large firm, drives a luxury car, and passes through our small town once a quarter on her way to the Cape for  important meetings.  She always makes sure that she meets me for a quick cuppa.  I've known her for most of my adult life, yet I have never seen her happy.  She always firmly believes that happiness would just be around the corner, it was just a question of meeting the right man ( she is twice divorced, a mother of two boys), getting a bigger salary ( she's moved up from sales assistant to general manager to regional manager), a better car (had a beetle now drives a funky sports model) and a larger house ( from sharing a flat with her sister to owning a 5 bedroom house with a pool on a golf estate).  Yet despite having reached all these goals, she was still unhappy.  Happiness is always just one more thing further.  Looking at her sitting opposite me in her beautiful designer suit and elegant shoes, I thought back to a time when another friend and I went on an outing with our children.  Amanda always had some or other project for the children to do.  At that time it was insect terrariums.  She had bought each child a little glass terrarium and the five of us went to the park to hunt for insects.  Kyle decided to hunt for ants and worms, while the two girls had their sights on some pretty butterflies.  Soon Kyle had dozens of ants and three worms crawling around in his insect box, but the girls were empty handed and very tired.  Melissa complained to her mom that the "silly butterflies" did not want to "stand still".  Exhausted, we all sat down on the river bank and had our picnic.  Suddenly my daughter exclaimed ,"Look Mommy, the butterflies are tired too", and lo and behold, right there on the grass at the little girls' feet sat three beautiful butterflies.  Nathaniel Hawthorne says that happiness is like a butterfly, which when chased stays just out of reach, but when you sit quietly, will come and sit on your shoulder.  Happiness cannot be found in things, objects or circumstances.  Happiness is found inside of yourself, it is in this moment.  It is being content with who you are and where you are.  It is an understanding of your life purpose and being at peace with yourself. External sources of happiness are only temporary, it is only a short-lived quick fix.  True happiness comes from embracing the now of who, what and where you are. It is allowing happiness to come and sit on your shoulder and to feel the soft whisper of it in your soul.

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