A couple months after I went back to work – following my maternity leave with Elliot – I attended a strategy meeting for work in Chicago. Throughout the meeting, I was distracted. I was thinking about my family at home. I was questioning my role and whether this was my true calling or if it was something I had just worked hard for and done well at for a decade or so.
During a break, as I was refilling my glass at the refreshment table, I watched a butterfly stuck in the same room, banging against the glass window. How in the world did a butterfly became trapped on the 30th floor of a downtown high-rise? I was watching it struggle, and then, against my better judgement, I grabbed a couple of plastic cups and was determined to scoop up and rescue this butterfly.
People who saw what I was doing chuckled and I could feel them roll their eyes at me as I headed out to the elevator bank with my little spirit animal. Make no mistake, perception is reality at work, and in one fell swoop, I’m pretty sure some of my colleagues started taking me less seriously. I didn’t care.
The elevator was jammed with suits looking at their phones. We rode together to the lobby while I looked down at my new friend. It was panicking and I could feel its wings fluttering hard against the sides of the disposable cup.
Then, we were on the street.
I let the butterfly go and I went back through the revolving doors, upstairs. The symbolic nature of this encounter was too much to ignore.
“Once I read a story about a butterfly in the subway, and today, I saw one. It got on at 42nd, and off at 59th, where, I assume it was going to Bloomingdales to buy a hat that will turn out to be a mistake – as almost all hats are… Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life – well, valuable, but small – and sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven’t been brave? So much of what I see reminds me of something I read in a book, when shouldn’t it be the other way around? I don’t really want an answer. I just want to send this cosmic question out into the void. So good night, dear void.” -Kathleen Kelly, You’ve Got Mail