Passing On Butterflies….

passing on butterflies

By Kenneth Justice

~ Last month I worked a lot of hours….in fact, aside from Easter Sunday I was pretty much working seven days a week for the whole month…and for what?

I don’t hate my job like some people…..but don’t get me wrong; I’m not in love with my job either.

I would say the best word to describe my vocational situation is that I’m thankful. I’m thankful for a career that pays the bills and leaves a little bit extra to put in savings and to go out to coffee……

But, there are many days that I ask myself; what am I doing? What’s the point of it all?

Isn’t that where a lot of us are? Whether we love or hate our careers, there are those days we wake up and realize; we aren’t getting any younger.

I have diplomas in psychology, addictions counseling, domestic violence counseling, and I’m 8 credits short of a degree in Social Work……and while those types of careers can be very satisfying in that you are working with people; Social Workers and Counselors experience some of the highest levels of burn-out of all professions.

The same goes with people in the teaching profession; many teachers get a lot of joy and satisfaction out of their work…..but many get it at a cost of high levels of stress and burn-out.

Law Enforcement, EMS, Doctors, Nurses…..the various people working in the helping professions can get a lot of happiness in working with the public….but it can also result in a lot of tired sleepless nights as well.

Whether we are a secretary, coffee barista, office worker, in sales, computer technology, or whatever…..there are good days….and there are days where we wonder; What the h**l am I doing with my life?

Sometimes I wonder if we in the Western World, where technology is king, have replaced the joy of experiencing every day to the fullest; for the daily grind where every day becomes a blur…..

How much of our life is spent building memories?

Memories that we will cherish till the day we die?

mustang blur

Sometimes I wonder if we in the Western World, where technology is king, have replaced the joy of experiencing every day to the fullest; for the daily grind where every day becomes a blur…..

How much of life is spent passing on butterflies; that is, building memories with the people we love?

Are we spending too much of our time on things we will never remember? Things that are monotonous and that will fade to grey?

How much time do we really spend….like the father in this photo; gently passing a butterfly to his daughter….creating moments that will last a lifetime?

passing on butterflies 2

Don’t get me wrong….I realize that every minute of every day can’t be the greatest moment of our lives……or can they?

I don’t really have any definite answers to these questions…..because I ask them about my own life all the time.

Isn’t it healthy to question whether or not we are living our lives the way we really want to live them?

If we never question things…..perhaps we will wake up one day and realize we wasted our life away.

Perhaps we will wake up one day and realize we’ve never passed on a single butterfly…….

for now, I think I’ll get another cup of coffee….a dark roast this morning….


Categories: Culture & Society, Photography

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32 replies

  1. I think this is even more important these days as the economy seems to be in a constant state of stagnation. People are so frustrated and angry at working for what? Feeding the federal beast every April fifteenth? Paying the State of Michigan it’s taxes for roads that never get improved, rather, just trucks that drive along and plop a dollop of cold patch in each crater one by one.

    A time when McDonald’s is the best choice in terms of dollars and cents but certainly not in terms of health. And so many other things in people’s lives. It all adds up to anger and resentment. And negative effects on families and marriages. Uhg.

    • John,

      I think your term ‘frustration’ is a great adjective for the way so many people feel right now; young and old….people are just plain frustrated with the way things are….

      and its for such a variety of reasons that people are frustrated….

  2. Beautiful…thank you for this post. I need to remember to pass on butterflies to those I love!!

  3. Yes, we spend our whole lives doing what we need to in order to get more things….Now I spend just as much time doing things, but I am writing and reading what I want and doing it on my own schedule so it is different and so much more rewarding!

  4. My interest is piqued by your line of thought and I’m enjoying your posts. Will be following because you make me think outside of my own thought processes (which also differ from the norm). Thanks for stopping by my blog 🙂

  5. This morning I picked up a manuscript of long ago…a dream I had to write a book. Well, there is a woman in the story that seemed to be saying these very sentiments. What does this all mean? What does it? Really? Mean? I like the idea of passing along a butterfly. Remember “Butterfly Kisses”? We all get caught up in “life” but the irony is that the life we live sucks us dry! Going back to writing my story…

  6. Aaaaaaaaaaah ‘passing on the butterfly’ LOVE the sentiment in this!

    You know… I have loved certain jobs more than others. One in prop mgmt, it was probably the hardest in dealing with the personalities of our ‘customer’ base BUT it was also very simple, direct, humbling and MOST nights it did not require me to lose sleep. In fact most nights I slept like a baby! 🙂 And it paid the bills, and I loved my boss AND I never once felt used or under appreciated and THERE IS SOMETHING to be said for that.

    • “and I loved my boss”….

      there is something that you don’t hear too often

    • yes those opportunities to love ones boss are RARE. But with this one ( or two actually ) Nice, Christians who believed in celebrating marriage, and family and allowed their employees the same joy. Lots of holidays OFF and BONUSSES even for anniversaries. Isn’t that cool?

  7. My husband is a clinical social worker in one of the poorest parts of New York City and, yes, he is getting burnt out but he also really feels good about what he does.

    • Stockdale,

      I think there is an important truth behind what you say,

      sometimes the things that bring us a lot of satisfaction are also the things that burn us out…probably because they are often psychologically/emotionally draining….

      congrats to your husband, social workers are often the only one’s who are there for many people

  8. i believe most jobs have undesirable elements to them and the best way to not get demoralized is to not focus on job satisfaction but on simply thinking of the rewards that will come from the paycheck. Very few people are fortunate to find their true calling in life I am envious of artists who are well paid because I believe that is one group that finds true happiness in being rewarded for their creativity.

    What I used to tell my daughter — she worked at a sucky call center job, had to drive a great distance to get there, and had to get up at five a.m. — was to focus on the fun times she would have with that $$. AND she DID have a grand time on her vacations. She traveled to Germany one yr, England the next, and Ireland the next. And she saved a nice egg for her future home one day.

    A job is a means to an end and not an end in itself — for most of people, I believe.

    And IF i was fortunate to have a job I would be more than happy to pay my taxes. So many foreigners would gladly trade places with us…those who are blessed to live in this great land called America…and they’d be happy to pay the taxes and do our jobs!!

    Another way to compensate for our disappointments in life is to look around and compare ourselves to others and find gratitude in our heart for what we DO have and enjoy. Simple things like good health, a loving family and good neighbors are the largest blessings of my life…and I must not forget THEM..esp on days when I feel down about all the negatives in my life.

    I was truly touched by the butterfly gifts you spoke of…and I had to comment. 🙂


  9. Beautiful hot, and beautiful sentiment. Thank you.

  10. I meant…beautiful photo! Sorry for the typo.

  11. Great post Kenneth,

    I was laying in bed this morning thinking about this very topic! Every day I get up and think, “Okay, just get through the day.” I am wishing my days away. I’m even wishing my weeks away! There is always a task or an event looming in the near future that I can’t wait until it is done… this makes me so sad.

    When am I going to reach the point when I’m happy to be living today? Will it be too late and I can only look back and see all the time I wished away?

    I make an effort to be “in the moment” with my children, but I’m so tired after work and there is dinner to be made or a thousand other things to do. I know this is reality. I know I’m a good mom and they have more love and attention than most but I just wished I was enjoying it more. I’ve got to pass more butterflies!


  12. O.k. I have to pass on this blog to you. It, to me, gives a very interesting viewpoint of the “curses” that metaphorically or literally took place in the Garden of Eden. There are not many comments on that blog, not sure if people are reading it, but for some reason, I couldn’t stop reading it. The reason it relates to your post is that it describes the man’s “work” before and after the “curse.”

  13. A friend who came out of his brief retirement to resume his counseling business came for a visit recently. It was the first visit in five years, so we had plenty of catching up to do.
    “Why did you give up your practice, which seemed to be going so well?” I asked him.
    “Mack, do you remember what it was like listening to other peoples’ problems all day, and then coming home to listen to your wife complain about her real estate customers who kept her waiting all day and then didn’t show up at all? Don’t you remember all the trouble you had collecting your fees and commissions? And how about those sleepless nights? As you know, I counsel kids at risk, married couples in the throes of divorce, and grieving widows of servicemen killed in these stupid wars. I loved my job, but it left me exhausted; I have only visited my daughters twice in the past five years and they live less than two hours drive away. And then, there was the trauma of my own divorce—imagine that. . .”

    Last night in an email my friend wrote: “I’m back in the office. Business is booming. If I can make it through this year without cracking up, I’ll be up to see you again on my way out to Oregon.”

    Just a pale butterfly, not a Monarch, but it flutters.

  14. Good reflections for healthy living. How quick were you to get this beautiful shot?

  15. I always enjoy how your articles make me think, I wrote a poem on this one.

    Looking At Butterflies

    How much of life
    Is spent
    Looking a butterflies
    Looking at the shining sun
    From the nest of papers
    Scattered on a desk
    In an office

    Remembering the youth
    With a fondness
    Chasing butterflies
    Wishing for it over again
    All grown up
    Not thinking
    Of even the passing wing
    Of a butterfly

    Like a butterfly in water
    Is draining the color
    Lack of time
    No time to love
    Not a place
    Where butterflies
    Are seen

    What is life for?
    How is it seen?

    What sort of lifecycle
    Is that?
    Can’t life
    Be worked
    Under the sun?
    Why can’t life be enjoyed
    Without only
    Give and take
    Why can’t people
    Slow down
    To go out
    Smell the flowers
    And look at the butterflies

  16. Daily grind. Modern Technopolis – “The Dictatorship of the Clock”. I taught high school history 33 years but last decade I was really just surviving and burnt out. But there’s that pension and made the suffering worth it looking back.

  17. How well you articulate what I feel every day! I’m a full time Mom by choice and although I’m a qualified Pediatrician, I thought it was time to take a break to look after my son. A lot of people tel me that it’s not alright to ‘not’ be a doctor anymore, but I say – it’s my choice and nobody else’s business! My son needs me and I choose him – it’s that simple.

    I love that analogy of passing on butterflies and the picture that goes with – such a beautiful way of encouraging people to connect and to remember that which we most cherish 🙂

    Here’s to the Butterflies!

  18. Thanks for stopping by my blog. This is a topic I reflect on often… That challenging balancing act between doing and being, giving and receiving, the passion and the burn out… Somehow, I think it is part of the many cycles we are supposed to go through here, in life, and, maybe, hopefully, we take tiny childlike steps towards a harmonious balancing point… Hopefully… Although we may have to experience a lot of discord along the way…

  19. Hi Kenneth, I’m just getting time to check out your blog. So, first, thanks for visiting extrasimile. I do like it when people arrive out of the blue. ‘Passing on butterflies…’—such a good title, with that ambiguity waiting there for us. I can ‘pass on’ butterflies—nice, sounds neighborly, fatherly—or I can ‘pass’ on butterflies—just skip the whole thing, thank you. Both to me seen worth doing, for of course we pass on bad things as well as good. How to know when to ‘pass on’ and when to ‘pass’? And those memories—how to know when we are building them and when they are building us? Let me pass on a thought from Philip Larkin:
    Truly, though our element is time,
    We are not suited to the long perspectives
    Open at each instant of our lives.
    They link us to our losses: worse,
    They show us what we have as it once was,
    Blindingly undiminished, just as though
    By acting differently, we could have kept it so.


  20. You can’t beat a good dark roast. :0)

    Well, congratz on your academic accomplishments. We’re in the same line of work I see. (I’m 4 credits away from my receiving my degree in Behavioral Sciences and certification in Substance Abuse.) Fun stuff, no?
    I’m off to bed but glad to have seen this post. (I feel you.) Overall I think, if we can alter one negative thought out there- and turn a negative into a positive- then we’ve succeeded. (Or maybe my brain is fried from all of this calculus!)



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