To coincide with the release of The Butterfly Effect movie, we are proud to announce the winner of the Butterfly Effect Contest, Grenardo L Avellino! The contest challenged Facebook fans of Simple Truths to submit their own “Butterfly Effect” stories. Not familiar with the concept? Click on the movie in the sidebar to learn more. Grenardo (or Greg for short) will receive a copy of The Butterfly Effect signed by Andy Andrews, thank you Greg!
Last year, my daughter Rose participated in a church mission trip to the Dominican Republic. When she arrived back home, we could see a transformation that we had trouble understanding. As a family, we took time to digest her experiences and we tried to understand what she felt short-term and long-term.
She showed us pictures and told us about the orphans and the lives they lived. She made friends with kids from other high schools and as a dad, I thought it was pretty neat to see her spread her wings socially.
But there was something more that she received from the trip that I would not be able to understand myself until she asked me to consider being a chaperone for this year’s trip. As you know, when your teenager asks you to chaperone – you don’t turn down the opportunity.
I was one of 8 chaperones, and the only male chaperone. It was a challenge living with 7 ladies, but I grew to appreciate them and together we learned each others’ strengths. Collectively, we motivated and led 37 kids from 9 different high schools of all socio-economic backgrounds and family structures.
We taught English camp at the disco, which was nothing more than a structure with a small stage, a roof and no walls. Every day when we arrived, we would sweep off the urine and defecation from the goats that wandered aimlessly so the kids would not run through it and we wouldn’t have to sit in it as we taught. Often I observed the older kids would sneak over and read the books we brought with us. There was a thirst for knowledge. You see, if they are able to speak English, then they can possibly thrive in the tourism business and be more productive citizens.
As a kid, every Sunday my father would drive our family through Harlem in NYC on the way to 5th Avenue Presbyterian Church. My father said weekly – “Take a good look around.” For 45 years, I thought that was some of the worst poverty I had ever seen. 45 years of thinking changed July 7th when we began our mission trip and visited the Mustard Seed Orphanage. The orphanage itself was loving and cared for children with disabilities. The community playground outside the Mustard Seed had swing seats that were split in half. I had with me a roll of sport tape, and I taped both seats so the kids could swing again. To see the happiness of the little kids when they were able to swing again was satisfying and heartwarming.
We developed relationships with the neighborhood of Monte Cristi. On a very hot Sunday some of our kids played volleyball in the street. People sat on the sidewalks in communal groups and sprayed water all over themselves and others to cool down. They even felt comfortable enough to spray and soak some of us to cool off! There was a strong sense of community. There was laughter and a lesson for all – to be thankful for what we have and not for what we think we need. Everywhere we went people greeted us by saying “Hola!” We felt very welcomed.
We began each day with an activity that was either meditation, prayer, a significant reading, or motivational quotations. We served during the day, and at night we came together for reflection that was affectionately called “group therapy.”
On July 13th, we visited the marketplace in DaJabon where twice a week the border between Haiti and the DR is opened, allowing the Haitians to come to the marketplace and buy goods. To see despair and humans fighting for survival, making multiple trips for goods, made us appreciate what we have.
This mission trip afforded me the time to develop a deeper understanding of my relationship with my daughter, my family, God, and others. I was fortunate to see and experience my daughter one-on-one as her father and as a chaperone. I strongly urge you to participate in the future with your own child together on a mission trip.
In closing, what truly does matter most in our lives? It is not the nice car, the nice house, and the ability to buy whatever we want and do not necessarily need. To see the happiness and warmth of the Dominicans when some have nothing or little has made me examine my own beliefs and who I am. We all need to give back and develop more as humanitarians. What can you do to change someone else’s life or your own? After the trip I was more patient and understanding and less demanding of others. The people in the Dominican Republic have nothing compared to us in the US, but they had each other and happiness in living with what they had.
I returned appreciating the simplest things I took for granted in life. The most influential parts of my trip were two experiences – seeing how people survived at Dajabon (the border of Haiti and the Dom Rep) and teaching children in the Batey Maguaca. I have a rebirth in me to enjoy and appreciate not what I have, but the community of people I work and live in. I always knew there were people less fortunate than me, but I never really paid attention. I now have been volunteering with Imagine Syracuse and exploring ways to teach my children how to give back.
The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough. ~Rabindranath Tagore
May the wings of the butterfly kiss the sun
And find your shoulder to light on,
To bring you luck, happiness and riches
Today, tomorrow and beyond.
Butterflies are self propelled flowers. ~R.H. Heinlein
If nothing ever changed, there'd be no butterflies. ~Author Unknown
The caterpillar does all the work but the butterfly gets all the publicity. ~Attributed to George Carlin
What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly. ~Richard Bach
But these are flowers that fly and all but sing:
And now from having ridden out desire
They lie closed over in the wind and cling
Where wheels have freshly sliced the April mire.
~Robert Frost, "Blue-Butterfly Day"
I saw a poet chase a butterfly in a meadow. He put his net on a bench where a boy sat reading a book. It's a misfortune that it is usually the other way round. ~Karl Kraus
Beautiful and graceful, varied and enchanting, small but approachable, butterflies lead you to the sunny side of life. And everyone deserves a little sunshine. ~Jeffrey Glassberg
The butterfly is a flying flower,
The flower a tethered butterfly.
~Ponce Denis Écouchard Lebrun
Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you. ~Nathaniel Hawthorne
There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it's going to be a butterfly. ~Richard Buckminster Fuller
They seemed to come suddenly upon happiness as if they had surprised a butterfly in the winter woods. ~Edith Wharton
With the rose the butterfly's deep in love,
A thousand times hovering round;
But round himself, all tender like gold,
The sun's sweet ray is hovering found.
~Heinrich Heine, "New Spring"
"Just living is not enough," said the butterfly, "one must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower." ~Hans Christian Anderson
Love is like a butterfly: It goes where it pleases and it pleases wherever it goes. ~Author Unknown
I've watched you now a full half-hour;
Self-poised upon that yellow flower
And, little Butterfly! Indeed
I know not if you sleep or feed.
How motionless! - not frozen seas
More motionless! and then
What joy awaits you, when the breeze
Hath found you out among the trees,
And calls you forth again!
~William Wordsworth, "To a Butterfly"
I only ask to be free. The butterflies are free. ~Charles Dickens
The butterfly's attractiveness derives not only from colors and symmetry: deeper motives contribute to it. We would not think them so beautiful if they did not fly, or if they flew straight and briskly like bees, or if they stung, or above all if they did not enact the perturbing mystery of metamorphosis: the latter assumes in our eyes the value of a badly decoded message, a symbol, a sign. ~Primo Levi
And what's a butterfly? At best,
He's but a caterpillar, at rest.
Flowers and butterflies drift in color, illuminating spring. ~Author Unknown
We are like butterflies who flutter for a day and think it is forever. ~Carl Sagan
This great purple butterfly,
In the prison of my hands,
Has a learning in his eye
Not a poor fool understands.
~William Butler Yeats, "Another Song of a Fool"
[N]ot quite birds, as they were not quite flowers, mysterious and fascinating as are all indeterminate creatures. ~Elizabeth Goudge
The butterfly, a cabbage-white,
(His honest idiocy of flight)
Will never now, it is too late,
Master the art of flying straight.
~Robert Graves, "Flying Crooked"
The green grass and the happy skies
court the fluttering butterflies. ~Terri Guillemets
Know thyself! A maxim as pernicious as it is ugly. Whoever observes himself arrests his own development. A caterpillar who wanted to know itself well would never become a butterfly. ~Andre Gide
Do ye not comprehend that we are worms,
Born to bring forth the angelic butterfly
That flieth unto judgment without screen?
Bees sip honey from flowers and hum their thanks when they leave.
The gaudy butterfly is sure that the flowers owe thanks to him.
~Rabindranath Tagore, Stray Birds
We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty. ~Author Unknown
Go on, hitch a ride on the back of a butterfly. There's no better way to fly. ~Pat Monahan, Scott Michael Underwood, and James W. Stafford, "Get To Me"
The fluttering of a butterfly's wings can effect climate changes on the other side of the planet. ~Paul Erlich
And the case of butterflies so rich it looks
As if all summer settled there and died.
~Philip Larkin, "Autumn"
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. ~Nikolaus Laszlo, Nora Ephron, and Delia Ephron, You've Got Mail
A million butterflies rose up from South America,
All together, and flew in a gold storm toward Spain...
~Winfield Townley Scott, "Annual Legend"
In nature a repulsive caterpillar turns into a lovely butterfly. But with humans it is the other way around: a lovely butterfly turns into a repulsive caterpillar. ~Anton Chekhov
Gray sail against the sky,
Have you a dream for going.
Or are you the blind wind's blowing?
~Dana Burnet, "A Sail at Twilight"
The paired butterflies are already yellow with August
Over the grass in the West garden;
They hurt me. I grow older.
This magnificent butterfly finds a little heap of dirt and sits still on it; but man will never on his heap of mud keep still. ~Joseph Conrad
Just like the butterfly, I too will awaken in my own time. ~Deborah Chaskin
Women, don't get a tattoo. That butterfly looks great on your breast when you're twenty or thirty, but when you get to seventy, it stretches into a condor. ~Billy Elmer
Where have those flowers and butterflies all gone
That science may have staked the future on?
He seems to say the reason why so much
Should come to nothing must be fairly faced.
~Robert Frost, "Pod of the Milkweed"
As for butterflies, I can hardly conceive of one's attending upon you; but to question the congruence of the complement is vain, if it exists. ~Marianne Moore, "To a Steam Roller"
We must remain as close to the flowers, the grass, and the butterflies as the child is who is not yet so much taller than they are. We adults, on the other hand, have outgrown them and have to lower ourselves to stoop down to them. It seems to me that the grass hates us when we confess our love for it. Whoever would partake of all good things must understand how to be small at times. ~Friedrich Nietzsche
The tulip and the butterfly
Appear in gayer coats than I:
Let me be dressed fine as I will,
Flies, worms, and flowers exceed me still.
We are closer to the ants than to butterflies. Very few people can endure much leisure. ~Gerald Brenan
Nerves and butterflies are fine - they're a physical sign that you're mentally ready and eager. You have to get the butterflies to fly in formation, that's the trick. ~Steve Bull
The least thing upset him on the links. He missed short putts because of the uproar of butterflies in the adjoining meadows. ~P.G. Wodehouse
Grown-ups love figures. When you tell them that you have made a new friend, they never ask you any questions about essential matters. They never say to you, "What does his voice sound like? What games does he love best? Does he collect butterflies?" Instead, they demand: "How old is he? How many brothers has he? How much does he weigh? How much money does his father make?" Only from these figures do they think they have learned anything about him. ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince, 1943, translated from French
It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by. How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment? For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone. That is where the writer scores over his fellows: he catches the changes of his mind on the hop. ~Vita Sackville-West
I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly dreaming I am a man. ~Chuang Tzu