I was sitting there realizing that this had really happened. That was the first day I thought of myself as an adult, maybe it is because my aunt had already pointed it out. I had already been to funerals. They were for my family members or friends of the family, but this time the funeral was for somebody that I knew that I had met on my own. My best friend throughout high school and college had passed away at the very young age of twenty. At that point I realized that things like this were going to happen again and again but it is how you look at things that really matters. As I was obtaining that realization, her mother let go of a butterfly a little marip0sa that she had in a little plastic bubble.
When I was in high school, my biology teacher told our class that there is a Chinese philosopher, Zhuangzi, who had a theory:
Once Zhuangzi dreamt he was a butterfly, a butterfly flitting and fluttering around, happy with himself and doing as he pleased. He didn’t know he was Zhuangzi. Suddenly he woke up and there he was, solid and unmistakable Zhuangzi. But he didn’t know if he was Zhuangzi who had dreamt he was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming he was Zhuangzi. (2, tr. Burton Watson 1968:49)
Looking at the butterfly fly away. I thought of the freedom that must come with that flight. I thought about the stages of a butterfly. Butterflies start off as little eggs. Then the egg becomes a caterpillar; a little bug that eats as much as possible. The caterpillar becomes a pupa and supposedly this is a stage of transition, and finally comes the beautiful butterfly that I saw leaving from the plastic bubble.
To me that butterfly did signify my friend. She was ready to fly or maybe she was ready to go into another dream, and she did. Even till this day when I see a butterfly, I think about her and her new dream. At that time, I felt as I was ready to fly as well, as if I had been in my little cocoon for so long that I had ignored the pain that comes with real life. Yet at that time I did not fly, restricted by my duties as a college student.
Since then I spent two more years in college and graduated. I have always dreamed about becoming a lawyer and have worked to get in to law school. However, I am still in the pupa stage; restricted by the fact that I have no wings and so I cannot fly.
My parents brought me to this country when I was seven years old. My mother had already been here as her mother had been born here and I guess this land drew us. We came here on vacation for a wedding and my parents decided to stay for an indefinite amount of time. My father started a business and we have been able to sustain ourselves from that. So I have no legal permanent residency in the United States and to me that feels like not having any wings. I dream about flying and being able to lead a normal life but for the time being, I take life one day at a time and I try to enjoy the little cocoon I have built for myself. I know that I am not the only one in this situation. I know that there are other people in the world that have problems bigger than mine, but sometimes only sometimes the cocoon feels a little suffocating and I feel like am going to die. Then I start to think about what this all really means and I see that nobody really knows what this life is about; it could in fact be just a butterfly’s dream, and so eventually I will be able to fly.