A virus, treachery, and insects with brightly colored wings—a highly unlikely threesome. When a pandemic escapes from Pandora’s box and changes the face of our world seemingly overnight, anything we think is disconnected is quickly negated. Suddenly, we find ourselves having a direct experience of the famous adage that goes something like, “The flap of a butterfly’s wings in our garden affects the winds in Beijing.”
It seems an absurd thought, too infinitesimal to ever make any reasonable sense. Yet now we’re living smack in the middle of its truth. Only this time, the adage is working in reverse. In some far eastern Chinese city, the “flap” of a mutant virus has affected the entire globe and wreaked havoc with the familiar garden of our experience. While some of us may avoid exposure or dodge illness, many more have been afflicted by some form of economic fallout, the scope of which is heightened by the existing degrees of privilege or poverty we’ve lived with until now.
Even more widespread ripples of connection and winds of change unleashed by that Asian butterfly have come in the form of a plague of fear and a disruption of normalcy. Business as usual is interrupted and we’re left squirming with inconvenience, coming face to face with our blind attachments to predictability and false certainty that have kept us deeply asleep to ourselves and one another.
It doesn’t matter if we find ourselves in Wuhan, Paris, or New York City, or on a cruise ship en route to Antarctica. Everyone is involved. We’re in this together, as the empty storefront signs and billboards along the now uncongested highways suggest.
The more we’ve built our lives on the fault lines of a fractured world, the more we’re being jogged awake to discover everything is connected to everything else, no matter how subtle the affinity. The flap of the butterfly’s wings going viral this winter unleashed a swarm of personal earthquakes this spring, the seismic magnitude of impacts measured by how long and how deep we’ve buried things we don’t want to look at.
I am a nature-based life coach and educator committed to supporting others as they move as gracefully as possible within the winds of unexpected change and uncertainty. It’s clear to me that COVID-19 is the opportunity to explore this butterfly effect in the midst of a high-wire threat. Every bit of sharp attention is required to stay awake and not miss the navigational cues embedded in such challenging circumstances.
Carrie, a co-adventurer and client, recently phoned me from sequestration in northern New England with a desire to embark on the next phase of her healing journey. Two years earlier, a Lyme Disease diagnosis shattered her world. COVID-19 added to the mix, an exposure threatened her already-compromised immune system. She couldn’t see a future. While recounting the story that toppled her health, career, and a relationship, Carrie used the word “betrayal” at least three times. “This betrayal has fallen over my vision like a visor blocking the light of the sun,” she said. Carrie recognized it as having been with her forever, but was usually absent from her day-to-day awareness.
Our stories always contain the remedies for our challenges, if we’re awake enough to hear them. And I heard this clearly.
Betray All. Betray All. Betray All.
What if betrayal isn’t the end of all life ahead? What if betrayal is the navigational directive itself? Maybe the very thing that literally plagued Carrie (and plagues us all) is actually the roadmap to our redemption. Like buds on a branch, each different from the others, spring is a time when betray all colors in and illuminates the bleak world of winter as it moves from dark uniformity to robust distinction.
In adolescence, betray all helps us plug our ears to what we’ve been told by our parents and other “authorities,” so we can discover the unique voice that is our own. This is the place where discovery of what’s possible is revealed when the familiar falls away, when cultural conditioning and who we’ve known ourselves to be are challenged by the disruption of business as usual. Betray all is the practice of social distancing at its best: not disconnected, but a stepping back that allows us to recognize our connectedness and to find shelter in our individuation.
As Carrie and I explored betray all as a fresh perspective, a new “visor” to pull down over her eyes, she discovered the opportunity to use what blocked her from moving forward as a welcome steppingstone. Perhaps Carrie’s flapping butterfly wings carry a message to all of us in this time of discovering the interface of our personal and global connection, in this place where COVID-19, betrayal and butterflies of spring flutter together.
Each of us has the opportunity to recognize the trials of this time as a realignment, to use the dissolving of familiar moorings to open a whole new world where individuation and connectedness can reside as partners. As we make our own discoveries and embrace what truths are unseated by the challenge found in our own stories and responses to COVID-19, we gain a momentum that has the capacity to change the greater world as we change our personal one.
This virulent spread of a new beginning represents a level of powerful sharing rooted in a long-forgotten past. The butterfly effect isn’t so subtle after all, but a profound truth that has long awaited our discovery.
Pat Heavren, MHSA, is a coach, consultant, mediator and educator whose passion is helping others to grow their personal vitality and professional leadership by aligning with the wisdom of the natural world. She is the author of Magic in Plain Sight: When Acceptance is the Healing and is former senior teaching faculty with the Four Winds Society’s International School of Energy Medicine. Pat has led workshops across the US, Canada and Latin America and works worldwide with clients via Zoom from her Woodbridge, CT office.
She can be reached at: www.livingsource.us and (203) 444-4424 for appointments.