Chasing Butterflies

“You can only chase a butterfly for so long.”
― Jane Yolen, Prince Across the Water

From a very early age, butterflies and moths have been my totems. I have always been enchanted by their graceful movements and their vibrant colors. Although they symbolize different things to different cultures, universally, they represent change and transformation.


I’ve chased butterflies all my life…from the incredible Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in Michoacán, Mexico…to a life-altering butterfly experience with a shaman in Machu Picchu, Peru…to an enlightening experience that led me to get a Luna Moth tattoo on my left shoulder.  So, when the Butterfly Sanctuary in Charo Verde, Ometepe Island, Nicaragua opened last week, I knew I was in for a treat.

Now, I’ve heard that chasing butterflies is not a good way to spend one’s life. Some say that it’s like trying to catch an elusive dream or wandering aimlessly through life without goals. In the lyrics of Norah Jones song, Butterflies she sings, “Don’t go chasing after butterflies when everything you want is right here by your side.” Or the idiom, “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.”

But, if you never search on the other side of the fence, or don’t chase after the fleeting butterflies, how do you know what you want in life?  Chasing butterflies is always a mysterious adventure for me. An adventure that involves patience, strength, and cleverness.

Just because there are no butterflies on these gorgeous flowers doesn’t mean that butterflies don’t exist. In waiting patiently for the butterflies to arrive, I can savor the moment and stop to smell the flowers. They will come.

The butterfly is an insect that begins life in one form, and ends life in another. The Christian culture views the butterfly as a symbol of resurrection. In Asian culture, the butterfly represents a long life. The Fancy Shawl Dance ( a dance of the butterflies), as exhibited in Native American cultures, symbolizes how a grieving heart can be transformed through a new beginning.

Always keep the faith! The butterflies have arrived! No matter how fleeting the moment, chasing butterflies will always be an important part of my life.

Are you a butterfly chaser? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

19 thoughts on “Chasing Butterflies

  1. We stayed at Chaco Verde last week for our visit to your lovely island (based upon your recommendation BTW!) and spent a lovely morning wandering about the butterfly enclosure among the flowers and butterflies. A very tranquil experience that we thoroughly enjoyed and, now that I read that it just opened the week we were there, another moment of serendipity! Anita

  2. ugh.. i feel your pain as well – i think everyone should experience brutally-slow internet for a few days so that they understand what we go through to post/read/comment/reply… it’s so frustrating when we reach ‘this’ point, then hit ‘post comment’ only to see it swirl for a minute then bounce back… or to wait half an hour to see the inbox, then load an email to see a forward!

    the images of the butterflies are lovely, and i have stayed at chardo verde! it’s great to see progress, and i predict that it will be a huge draw for ometepe. mindo’s butterfly gardens are lovely, and i asked, ‘do you have week passes?’ she looked at me as if i were a bit nuts and said, ‘no…’ and on my second visit, she asked, ‘how much longer will you be in town?’ (i was leaving the next day..)

    seeing butterfly gardens is like walking in a dream! i’m not surprised that butterflies are special to you!

    now let’s see if this comment will flutter its way to you! z
    (it did not go through, but thankfully i copied the message!)
    attempt dos..
    attempt tres..

    • For bloggers with excruciatingly slow internet, we should win some kind of prize for the most creative ways to publish a post. jeje I would love to take my watercolors to the new butterfly sanctuary. I could have spent the entire day there. Hmm…I wonder if they will sell me a season pass? Great idea. Here’s hoping your internet is stronger today.

      • it’s now night, so the comments are loading – no longer white ghost images!

        i also noted your comment last week eon a wordpress post, and you addressed the weekly ‘baiters’ that leave a long queue of ‘pingbacks’ on the weekly challenges. sometimes i don’t even like to enter because of those false pingbacks! i tried to ‘second’ your suggestion, but the comment wouldn’t go through!

  3. Deb! the butterfly sanctuary looks great, I often wonder why haven’t somebody opened a world class zoo in Nicaragua, equipped with a Butterfly and Bird Sanctuary???

    • Jorge, Ometepe Island is really moving up in the world. I spent the day at the butterfly sanctuary and I felt like I was in a different world. The director of the zoo in Managua developed the butterfly sanctuary here. I’ve never been to the zoo in Managua, but I heard it’s a great little zoo. I should plan a trip there, soon.

  4. Butterflies have yet another, very current, meaning in terms of their migration and what they tell us about the inter-connectedness and health of the world. Unfortunately, species such as the Monarch are greatly endangered through largely human practices, e.g. pesticides, destruction of habitat etc. We saw the impacts here in North America last summer by greatly reduced numbers of butterflies brightening up our lives. Hopefully the survivors will regain strength in Mexico and Central American this year and more will return to their other home up north this summer. It offers food for thought about how we all are linked in a healthy world.
    I really enjoyed getting a sneak preview of the Ometepe butterfly farm earlier this year and look forward to returning and seeing the completed project.

    • Jon, if you come back to visit the butterfly sanctuary soon…it’s only $5 instead of $10. Hint, hint. I’m worried about our human dominance over all living things on our planet. We really need to make this a priority, make more connections with the natural world, and understand the devastating effects we create in clear-cutting, mining, and changing the natural habitats of all living things. It’s alarming to me!

  5. Another great article.

    Thought you may like this.

    How to Paint The Awesome Way by Vincent Padilla Art Lessons Part 4 – YouTube

  6. If you ever get a chance to visit the home of Monarch butterflies in Mexico -it is like going to world of butterflies.
    There was National Geographic articles about this years ago that didnt give exact info but allowed me to get close enough to find & get young locals to guide me. I believe now Mex . gov. has opened preserve or sanctuary & it may be better directions & information.
    It is where the monarchs return year after year -their inner radar directing them thousands of miles annually.

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