I have a theory that most people in the world are just fumbling through life and learning as they go. Whether I’m telling myself that in order to make myself feel better about the way I’m fumbling through life and learning as I go remains to be successfully proven. But no one wants to fumble through life and feel like they’re the only one with metaphorical butterfingers, right? So whether you’re fumbling along with me or not, I’m going to pretend you are, dear reader, to make myself feel better. If, however, you’ve got it all together and you’re in complete control, I can just about guarantee you that you’re going to think I’m a disaster. And that probably makes you feel better about yourself. So, hey, it’s a win-win. Let’s embellish a bit and then we can call this paragraph “uplifting.”
In my world, everything about me is as late as a December butterfly. Including the story behind the name “December Butterfly,” which would logically have been where I started, if I were truly as logical as I deem myself to be.
I’m the kind of person who prefers the background. If all the world is a stage, I’d rather be up in the rafters directing the lighting or backstage creating costumes. My current day job is that of a church secretary. I pay the bills, keep the books, create the printed worship programs, put together calendars and printed materials and such. The kind of things that, while attending a worship service, you generally don’t pause to wonder about, such as why the lights are on, or how you know which song will be sung next. I feel like my job is to keep things running so smoothly that you don’t have to think about those things. I’m a facilitator. I like to concentrate on the details so that others look good.
Sound weird? Well that’s totally okay. Because I am weird. There are few places in life where I’ve ever really felt I belonged. I don’t say that to evoke sympathy; out-of-place and atypical are characteristics I’ve grown into over time, and learned to appreciate and embrace. I’m an introvert (if that wasn’t obvious), so I’m fully aware that I have some idiosyncrasies. I’m weird and I enjoy it.
Growing up, I was the first grandchild in my family. If you’re not a first grandchild, you cannot possibly grasp the inconceivable pressure I’ve been shouldering these 32 years. (That’s largely sarcastic, with a hint of truth). When you’re the first, you’re expected to also be exceptional. After all, you’ve got to set the example for all who will come after you. In my case, however, it meant that all of my cousins (who are naturally your first friends in life) were younger than I, and in some convoluted way resulted in my feeling younger than my natural age. I was surrounded by children who were younger, everywhere except during school classes. Let’s call it “prolonged exposure to childhood.” Add to the list of symptoms my strict and slightly sheltered upbringing, and you might begin to grasp how, while my school friends seemed to flourish in their appropriate ages, I seemed to take a bit more time in my “growing up.”
So when, one cold December afternoon a couple of years ago, I was driving home from work and encountered a butterfly floating across the intersection where I’d stopped to make a left turn, it made something click for me. You have to understand that I basically spend my existence creating metaphors, because let’s face it, reality needs a little spicing up now and then. Seeing this butterfly set off a chain of associational reactions in my mind. (I’m fully aware that associational is not a real word. Sometimes I have to make up a word to make my points).
At first glance, I barely noticed it. In North Carolina, it had already been a month filled with feeling a tiny bit jumpy whenever the slightest breeze would blow miniature leaf-tornadoes across lawns and roadways, and cause small leafy dance parties in my peripheral vision. In a land overpopulated by asphalt-enamored daredevil squirrels, you can see my dilemma. But once December rolls around, these random movements and eye-corner specters have grown so commonplace that they begin to be generally accepted as part of the landscape. A small fluttering wasn’t exactly on my radar that day.
Out of Place
After a moment, it registered in my too-cluttered-for-recognizing-the-obvious mind that the fluttering in question belonged to an insect that is most often seen in my neck of the woods (that’s how North Carolinians talk sometimes) during summer. Quite out of place with Christmas just around the corner. I didn’t even recall thinking we’d had any unseasonably warm weather that might account for it. It simply seemed like a thing that should not be.
I do recall my inner dialogue being something along the lines of “Wow. That is one late butterfly.” All the other butterflies had moved on with their lives… and deaths, I suppose. (Not to be morbid; the average lifespan of a butterfly is about one month, so…) This guy was still hanging around about 3 or 4 months after all the others had gone.
I spent the afternoon pondering on this butterfly “vision,” and what it was evolving into in my mind. It’s become a kindred identity for me, as well as an intriguing metaphor for my favorite pastime: crochet.
I’ve wanted to learn to crochet since I was a kid. I tried, but couldn’t grasp it, so I gave up for a long time. Then, in November 2012, I watched a couple of ladies crocheting and for the first time it seemed like maybe it wasn’t so hard after all. I determined that I would try it again and not give up this second time. It stuck and I’ve been obsessed ever since. I’m self-taught from an instruction book and YouTube videos, and continue to learn as I go. In April 2015, my sister and I took a knitting class for beginners, and I’ve since been developing an affinity for knitting. I have interests in learning spinning and dying yarns as well, and hope to begin learning about those soon.
Crochet and knit garments and accessories can be made for any time of year, but they flourish in the chill of autumn, winter, and early spring. The time of year when you don’t typically see a lot of color, flowers, or butterflies. A special, handmade, yarn-art piece is the perfect way to add a splash of color and a dash of splendor during the drab and dull, colorless times of the year, while also providing much-needed protection from the cold.
I’m the facilitator. I like to concentrate on the details so that others look good. This yarn art obsession isn’t my job (yet!), it’s my creative outlet. Since it isn’t my job, the time I have to spend creating items isn’t as abundant as I’d like, and results in only a handful of pieces at a time. But what I lack in time and finished pieces, I hope to make up for with unique, beautiful items that will allow you to be that eye-catching flutter in winter. A spark of color in a grey season. A lasting impression. I’ll be the facilitator; you can be the December Butterfly.