12 September 2011

Combining schoolwork and Karma; relaxation techniques and even a smidge of economy

When I stopped for gas after school today, I noticed a monarch butterfly where there should not be one: flopping around on the hot pavement next to the gas pumps. The tanker-truck was just a few yards away, filling the station's underground reservoir. When I finished fueling, I picked up the butterfly and set it on top of the car. It promptly slid off. I went inside to pay.

While walking across the parking lot I made up my mind: I'd take this butterfly home, if I could get it into the car. I caught it in my cupped hands easily enough, and once inside the little Mercury it settled onto my raffia purse, and seemed comfortable.

In fact, it rode on the side of my purse for the next 30 miles, most of which were back-roads; one stretch even dusty gravel. My passenger window was down four inches, the back window on the same side cracked an inch, just enough to give a pleasant breeze without blowing my hair all over my eyes. It's the way I usually ride this time of year - no artificial heat or air needed. My point is, the monarch could have flown out the window at any time, but it was content to sit, flexing its pretty wings, less than a foot from where I'd originally set it.

On the way home I talked. Normally I talk to myself, rehashing things I need to do or things I should have done; often I talk to other drivers, but all I say to them is "Dumbass!" or something to that effect. Today I talked to the butterfly. I told it about Maslow's heirarchy of needs, and how this applies to us.

"I'm taking you home, because you don't need to be flopping around in the parking lot of a gas station like you were. Where we're going there's a big, beautiful butterfly bush, and right next to that is milkweed." Monarchs lay their eggs on milkweed, and that's all monarch caterpillars feed on.

"So, Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs, that's set up like a triangle with the base, the largest part, having to be met before the next need becomes important. First I had to take care of your physiological needs. Getting you out of that parking lot - away from those gas pumps, with the tanker right there, well, that's no place for a butterfly. You need cleaner air than that. I had to get you away from the fumes so you could breathe. And the surface, all asphalt and concrete! That's no place for a butterfly. You need grass and flowers, even trees, not asphalt.

"The next need is safety. Right there by the pumps you were in danger of getting run over or stepped on. Where we're going the only thing you'll have to watch out for is kitties. Stay high in the butterfly bush and you'll be out of their reach.

"Third on the list is psychosocial needs like 'friendship' and 'belonging.' Not sure what kind of social interaction you guys have, but in a butterfly bush next to milkweed, where butterflies hang out, feed, lay their eggs and hatch... well, you can be a social butterfly if that's what you want.

"Then comes esteem. I'd actually planned to go through town on my way home today. I was going to stop at Wal-Mart to get a box for my nurse kit, so it'd be easier to carry to school tomorrow, and I'm due an oil change, was going to stop and do that too.

"But seriously, I don't think you'd like the trip through town. There's traffic and exhaust and noise, lots of stopping at lights, and I'd be talking to the other drivers. I think taking this back road, even with that section of gravel, is better for both of us. I know it's better for you! And slowing down, looking at trees and gardens instead of four more lanes of traffic, that's preferable for me too. I have a big pencil case I can use for my nurse kit; I don't need to buy a box. So there's your esteem: you are worth it! You're worth changing the priorities I'd set for the trip home. That should make you feel better." The butterfly turned a little, facing more toward me, and flexed its wings.

"The top of the pyramid is self-actualization. I'm not sure exactly what that means for you, but I've heard most of us never achieve that state. But if 'self-actualization' means reaching your potential and fulfilling your purpose in life, then sitting in a butterfly bush (where you can find a mate, if you desire one), with access to milkweed (where you can lay eggs, if you're so inclined), seems a lot closer to fulfilling a purpose than hanging out in toxic fumes on blacktop.

"So, here we are. Let me set you out and then I'll back up to the mailbox."

In the mailbox was a $3 off coupon for an oil change, at the place I would have stopped to have that done. Is that Karma, or what? :)

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