Pure Lepidoptery

What more felicitie can fall to creature
Than to enjoy delight with libertie,
And to be Lord of all the works of Nature,
To raigne in the aire from th’earth to highest sky,
To feed on flowers and weeds of glorious feature,
To take whatever thing does please the eie?

Edmond Spenser

DSCN0270Today, I am watching butterflies without an ulterior motive. I am done with trying to identify and count them, have given in to my confusion about their names and markings and their meanings. Rum and cola in my hand, I have put aside my lepidoptery, or, closer to the truth, I have chosen to purify it of its purpose.RSCN0276 The butterflies, after all, seem to come from nowhere, appear and disappear like fantasies or daydreams. I know too little about them to be scientific or to draw objective conclusions about their habits. Their temporal and spatial borders are uncharted for me, and it is an easy step from curiosity to procrastination, from studying to distraction and sloth.

The afternoon is full of sun, and the breeze is cool. The chasm between observation and wasting time, which seemed so wide just a little while ago, has collapsed around me, and my sense of application and utility, of duty and obligation and responsibility, has been unplugged. The butterflies’ passionate, fluttering search for sweetness and brightness is teaching me to draw no conclusions, to avoid the issues at hand, to forget the inevitable, to embrace excuses, to postpone commitment, to put off until tomorrow, to pretend, even to avoid indifference or nonattachment or anything wise or virtuous or transcendent that might lead to enlightenment or wisdom or knowledge.

RSCN0277Freed by my ignorance and lassitude, I have nothing to gain from the butterflies. I can do nothing with their bodies. I cannot capture their souls. These particular butterflies do not balance the planet, nor can I see the hurricane their wings may now be stirring in the Caribbean. I cannot connect their dots. I cannot feed the hungry with them, clothe the naked with them, cannot visit the sick with them or bury the dead with them. They dance in front of me without Jesus or the Buddha, without salvation, without heaven or hell, without sin or virtue, without selfishness or magnanimity, without humility or kindness or goodness or evil, without history or the future. Floating among these disconnections, I enjoy delight with liberty, am pure and clean and loopy, untied and clueless.

Bill Felker



  1. Judy Woods

    Ahhh . . . freedom

  2. Loretta Benner

    I love butterflies and moths. When I was teaching I had several collections in the black science
    cases for the students to observe and learn the names. I gave them to my niece who was going into teaching. I love the Luna Moth also.

    Beautiful writing. I just stumbled upon it as I saw a message came to me from my niece Karen Steele.

  3. Barbara Valdez

    I especially like the last paragraph and the sentences about balancing the universe and connecting the dots. What immediacy, and, as always, a connection to some deeper human reality. Thanks for putting it out there for us to savor.


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