Butterflies and Eagles
Today it seems we are talking about winged animals – butterflies and eagles. The truth is, both animals represent something powerful to us.
If you know me at all, you know I’m a huge animal advocate. My parents can tell you that I’ve been bringing home strays since I was 6 years old – from kittens and pups to ducks and pigs. You could say I have a way with animals, for sure.
And one of my absolute favorites has always been the Monarch butterfly, also known as the King of Butterflies. Many people have a love for these creatures. They are almost magical to me. When I was in the process of trying to rebrand my real estate company, I was on the phone with my mom and was telling her about my block of not being able to think of a proper name for the company. At that moment, in the courtyard in front of my office, a Monarch butterfly was dancing in the air from plant to plant. In mid-sentence with my mom, I said, “oh, look at the pretty Monarch butterfly.” My mother responded, “That’s it.” And, Monarch Real Estate Concierge was born.
In case you’re not completely familiar with the story of the Monarch butterfly, let me give you a few amazing facts. They have 4 life cycles – the first 3 living only 2-6 weeks and in the 4th life cycle, it can live 6 to 8 months. It can fly up to speeds of 5.5 mph and for comparison, the average human jogs at a rate of 6-8 mph. They are tougher than their beauty alludes as they undertake an incredible 2800 mile migration every winter. It’s easy to see why we hold such high regard for these magnificent creatures.
Equally magnificent, but on the complete opposite end of the winged spectrum is the eagle – specifically the bald eagle. The bald eagle carries similar allure and stature as does the Monarch butterfly.
Let’s look at some of its characteristics, starting with their wing span. It’s wider than the height of most humans – it ranges from 5.9’ to 7.5’. In stark contrast to the Monarch butterfly, the eagle flies at speeds ranging 35-43mph gliding and dive speeds reach up to 100mph. Is that not amazing?!?! Think about a car going 100mph diving into the water and what would happen to it. Just amazing that they not only survive the dive, they almost always come out with their prey. They typically live up to 20 years, with the oldest documented being 38 years in the wild and 50 years in captivity.
Okay, you’re probably, like what is this podcast about? Why are we learning facts about these winged creatures?
HA! Well, it’s funny, actually. Just like my last podcast on Wings or Weight, I was driving in my car to an appointment, listening to the radio and they aired a quote from a preachers sermon that said the following, “as Christians, we need to be living a life more like Eagles than butterflies.” It just struck me!
I immediately had a multi-layered conviction. On the one hand, I love my monarch butterfly and feel it holds such a graceful, yet strong symbol to so many, including me. And then I had flashbacks of these eagle statues that my dad gave to some of his youth representing the importance of living their life at the soaring heights of an eagle. So, I connected with that representation as well.
You could say, I was a bit conflicted in that moment. And I’ve let it marinate in my soul for long enough that I wanted to share this with you.
For me, this isn’t about which one is better or the right one to associate with. I mean, come on, they’re animals. But, we’re talking about symbolism here, of course. And while on the surface, I totally understand what that preacher was saying. As Christians and as a species in general, we have a tendency to go through life on the safe side – taking the meandering, sailing motions of the monarch butterfly. Not wanting to ruffle too many people’s feathers, etc.
The preacher was declaring that we should be living our lives as eagles. We should be setting the strong example, knowing who we are and declaring it to the world that we are bold in our convictions.
I totally get his point – like I said, I was like – Whoa!! But here’s the thing. As much as I would love life to be that black and white, it is not. Not even close. I say this often to my friends that live in the South, also known as the Bible belt. It’s so much easier to be a Christian, when everywhere you go, people have a chrome fish on the bumper or trunk of their car. Everyone goes to Sunday school and Wednesday night prayer service, etc. When you surround yourself with like-minded people, it can be so amazing and encouraging. It can also create tunnel-vision.
When I moved to California 17 years ago, it was a double-edged sword. I felt released from the expectations of what it means to live in the South and I also felt alone. I found a great church to connect with, but then I moved from Orange County to Malibu. Nothing wrong with Malibu, but Los Angeles isn’t known for seeing fish symbols on the back of people’s car – let’s just say that.
So, what does this have to do with butterflies and eagles? Just like with anything in life, there are times that what they both represent will apply.
Let’s be clear . . . The Native Indians saw the Eagle as a symbol for great strength, leadership and vision. As if to seemingly mirror this, the eagle has been used as a ‘banner’ by many of the great empires throughout history, from Babylon to Egypt, through to Rome and even the United States. In early Christianity the eagle was seen as a symbol of hope and strength, representing salvation. The eagle appears twice in the book of Revelation; both times in a context that suggests it is on the side of God. In Islam, the eagle represents warlike ferocity, nobility and dominion.
The butterfly represents the embodiment of spiritual growth and transcendence. Many people say they see more butterflies after a loved one has passed, for example. Most associate this because of the transformation from the caterpillar to butterfly. The purpose of the life of every butterfly is to set everything that was once known aside and to embrace an entire new way of being. It represents a guide on this journey of freedom from the past through the ascension to our best self.
Now, when it comes to living excellence, they both have a connection to that. Being a bit of a girly-girl, I have a love for my Monarch butterfly. Alternatively, I’ve been known to be a bit of a tough cookie, which is definitely more closely related to the eagle. But, as I tell people all the time – every choice you make in life will have consequences, both good and bad. Take me moving out to LA, as I mentioned before. I had a sense of freedom, but was also alone.
Here’s what I hope you get out of this. There is no wrong choice in being. While I respect the pastor and his position, especially living here in LA, as the saying goes, sometimes you attract more flies with honey than you can with vinegar. I did always think that was such a stupid saying – who wants flies – EVER?!?! But, yes, I get the point.
Honestly, I used to despise that saying because like I said, I was a bit of a tough love kind of person. But, with age comes wisdom, I know – enough with the cliché’s. But it is true – as I’ve gotten older, I appreciate the soft approach more and more.
Diversely, as a marathon runner, I am not going to get to the finish line with a butterfly spirit – that is for sure. So, you see, they both have their symbolic purpose in our life. You can use them as tools when you’re dealing with people or situations in your life. With this new found knowledge of butterflies and eagles, you can now ask yourself, do I call on my inner butterfly or eagle?
I do hope you’ve enjoyed our journey today!! The road to excellence is paved with many stories and it would make my heart sing to know that you spending time with me today has in some way, helped you see the gift that you are to this world.
Thank you for joining me today and until next time, Live Excellence.