The butterfly and the lamp Tuesday June 14, 2005, 0 comments

Near sunset, a butterfly was happily flitting in the last rays of the sun before retiring for the evening when he spotted a pretty young butterfly behaving in a most peculiar matter. He watched as she would fly about a bright lantern until the candle inside would eventually dim, then frantically make a dash for the next brightest lantern. About this lantern she would loop and swoop till it in turn dimmed. She would repeat her unusual flight over and over. Intent on discovering the nature of her strange actions, he approached her.

“What are you doing?” he asked, still trying to puzzle out the strangeness of her actions. He was finding it difficult to keep up to her as she dashed madly toward the next bright light.

“Quicky! To the light! To the light!” she chortled as she approached the lamp and resumed her lazy looping about it.

He followed her, more puzzled than ever. “Buy why?” he ventured.

“I don’t know. I like the lights,” she answered, dodging the dull moths as they too circled the lamp, vying for proximity to its heat and glow.

Now the butterfly thought he understood. He admonished her. “I see. You are doing as the moths do. Flying from light to light, for no other reason than because it is light. You are smart and beautiful, and the moths are dull and stupid. Why would you act as them?”

“Because it seems such a simpler life than flitting from flower to flower trying to find nourishment. It is easy to see which lights offer warmth and comfort, while it is difficult to determine which flower hides something sweet!” she called back to him. She had spotted a light brighter than all the others, and was racing to get there before any of the moths.

The butterfly raced after her, amazed by her silliness. He was about to express his disapproval of her undignified behaviour when she reached the bright light and burst into flame, not having noticed in her haste that the flame of the lamp was unprotected. In a second there was nothing left of her, and the moths flitted around the open flame at a safe distance.

“It is a far better thing to live as yourself than to die pretending to be someone else. And the problem with burning out instead of fading away,” the butterfly mused sadly as he sought refuge for the evening, “is that you’ll not be around to wonder which is better.”


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There is little elegance in complexity.”
- Adrian Lebar


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