I was sitting on a bench in the butterfly conservatory just taking in the atmosphere. It was humid and I could hear the man-made waterfalls and the soft chirps of birds. I watched aimlessly the butterflies as they flitted about, just awakening in the very early morning hours. It was much like watching an aquarium, very mesmerizing, except I had a 360 degree view. I pondered the butterfly and the meaning and symbolism behind them. Change. New beginning. Hope. Gratitude. Sobriety. Transformation. I let my mind stop and ponder this some more. Transformation. It was spring, the natural time when our energies increase and we come out of our winter slumber. It is also about new beginnings, renewal, colour, vibrancy, rebirth and new growth. As I sat in my silent reflection, I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be on my journey and I needed the reminder today that this was a time of transformation in my life.

Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory contemplating life

In Alcoholics Anonymous we have a saying, “Plan for the future but don’t plan the results.” This means put money away for retirement, or save for that house. Have ideas, dreams and desires to work towards, enjoy the journey, but don’t get caught up in the results. That home you’re saving for could easily instead become the trip of a life time. Or that interior design business you were hoping to open in the future might be replaced with a calling to be of greater service, like maybe a counsellor. The point is you never know what really lies around the corner. I have been taught that when you hit an unforeseen wall, just turn left. Turn left into the unknown.

There are the Viking Runes which in the past, I would sometimes focus on for meditation. One of my favourite, is the addition in recent years of a final rune called The Blank Rune. It represents the unknowable. “Total trust, surrender, relinquishing control – all this is only words. Look into the night sky. Tell me what you see, ” Ralph Blum, The Book of Runes. The blank is the beginning and it is the end. The Unknowable, is both the death and rebirth, the pregnant and empty. It is karma, yet nothing is predestined. It is changing. Being and living in the blankness, the unknowable, is one of the hardest things I have tried to do. It demands total surrender and total faith. But faith in what? In AA, it doesn’t matter, just as long as you come to believe in a power greater than yourself. For me, living in the unknowable only became possible as I became closer to my understanding of a God, sometimes refered to as a Higher Power or Universal Flow. It is the point where down deep in my heart and my soul, I know I will be alright and that everything will work out. It might not be the way I wanted or the manner in which I intended. But I will be okay. A calm center in the middle of chaos. I have learned that in very simple terms, it means accepting life on life’s terms. It means not fighting change, not wishing for it to be something different, or trying to force a different outcome. It means just accepting. Or as the blank rune reminds me, relinquishing control.

So as I sit here pondering the recent events in my life, I realize I am at the cusp of change and transformation. I have come through learning to accept life on life’s terms and dealing with the result instead of making a plan. I have come through and am now sitting in the unknowable, comfortable only because I have faith and belief that no matter what, I will be okay. My mother-in-law June, was instrumental in many of my recent life lessons. The journey with her and family through her last ten days, as she made a decision to end her life from a certain terminal disease through doctor assisted suicide. The days afterward, dealing with wills, possessions and probate. It was all  lessons. My cousin Lisa stated, “This has been a life altering experience for all of us,” which rang very true for this observer, witness and participant. I sat there amongst the butterflies, reflecting on the last month. You see, Sue and I had made plans. But I was to learn, I had been caught up in the outcome, in the result. I wanted it the way I wanted it and had hoped and dreamed it would be. I was devastated, as was Sue, when we realized the truths. And there were many truths. Some very hurtful, some very painful, and some that just needed to be realized and accepted. But things would not be as we had planned. So, it was time to turn left, having hit the wall and just accept what life was offering. It was time to turn it over and live in the unknowable.

As I sat in the quiet comfort of the conservatory, in just a few moments really, I had reflected upon all that had happened in my life very recently. I felt at peace. I felt calm. And for the first time, I felt gratitude. Sometimes the butterfly of change can be a wonderous and exciting experience, and at others, it is a necessity, born out of desperation. Getting sober was a desperate last act by a desperate person, and the process was very painful. For me, this time of change had been born out of sheer desperation and necessity. It is a heavy and arduous process, like trying to trudge through hip deep mud. But today, here I was on the other side of that trench. Here, as I sat in my sunny spot on the bench, listening to the waterfalls and the birds in the background, and aimlessly watching the butterflies flit around, I found gratitude for a new life.

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