Butterflies Over the Ocean

A few weeks ago I went on a whale watch off the coast of Portland, Maine. The experience was lovely and there were indeed a couple of whales to be watched, as well as seals and sharks and a variety of birds. All of them were beautiful and awe-inspiring. Surprisingly, though, it wasn’t the whales that stole the show.

It was the butterflies. 

Over and over throughout the 4-hour ride, gorgeous little Monarch butterflies danced over our heads far out on the water. The guides shared that the Monarchs were migrating to Mexico, making a more than 3,000 mile journey, much of it over the water along the coast.

There was something spectacularly moving about seeing tiny butterflies against the backdrop of a massive and endless body of water. There was nowhere to land, nothing to rest on, no flowers- nothing solid or reliable in sight. It seemed preposterous that a butterfly would make its migration flight over water – what a ballsy and maybe slightly stupid move, am I right? 

But there you have it. 

In the therapy room, we frequently examine the little “landing spots” that we put in place to help us feel safe navigating the world. As both a therapist and a human I am a big proponent of this idea – having preparedness, safety nets, contingency plans, and emergency supplies on our side so we can go out into the Scary world with some sense of peace. Some of us need many more “landing spots” than others, and I think that’s perfectly okay – we do what we need to do to take care of all of the Parts of ourselves. Sometimes just going out the front door in the morning is a very bold move. Because let’s face it…for lots of us, the world can be/is a dark place. 


We are sometimes gently forced to move through our fear when the landing spots inevitably become spaced out or less available. In those moments we have no choice but to take a deep breath and just keep going, taking the best care of ourselves that we can until respite becomes available to us again. Sometimes, we just have to fly over the ocean for awhile, with no safety nets in sight. This requires us to be Very Brave humans, indeed.

These moments are scary, to be sure. They can also be exhilarating and invaluable, showing us all the Lionhearted Parts of ourselves that maybe we didn’t know we had in us. I had such a moment occur recently, and it reminded me not to undersell myself and my own capabilities – that I perhaps possess far more strength than I’d thought. 

The moments we need to fly without safety nets: What lovely opportunities, when they come up, to reveal the very best of ourselves.

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