“Butterfly” is very well known as a noun. They’re what a caterpillar turns into after eating a butt-ton of leaves and passing out. They’re the moth’s annoying cousin who everyone’s always saying is more attractive and who gets used in logos and stuff, and all the moth gets is a stupid storytelling show. But I’m much more acquainted with “butterfly” as a verb. To butterfly. How does one butterfly? No not swimming, Ryan LIE-chte. One butterflies by being me and by constantly losing focus on what I’m doing and starting to do something else. It’s kind of like when
Sorry, I just remembered that I forgot to reschedule a dentist appointment. Sadly (or fortunately), I didn’t coin this term about myself. Some friends of mine christened me a butterflier while we were playing golf once. And I do mean once, because I don’t love playing golf. But anyway, we were on the green of the 7th hole playing golf–as one does on a golf course–when suddenly I spied a piece of paper on the edge of the green. Apparently I still had shots to take before I was finished with the hole. Apparently there were other golfers directly behind us who were waiting to play the hole until we were finished. More importantly though, there was a piece of paper on the green that was heretofore unexamined by me. Could it be a treasure map? A ransom note? A wistful love letter to a sweetheart from a GI stationed in Guam during the Second World War?
Turns out it was a to-do list. BUT, it was a to-do list whose third item, after 1. Put gas in van and 2. Replace light bulbs in garage was 3. Find source of ants. Find source of ants? Like, find the source of all ants? Find the point of origin from which all ants have issued forth since the dawn of time? I posed this question to my friends, but just like Socrates was unappreciated in his day, they were more interested in me finishing the hole and not getting us yelled at than in finding the genesis of all ants. “Kevin, we really need you to stop being a butterfly and finish the hole.” I guess I should have just been thankful they didn’t make me drink hemlock.
But they’re absolutely correct about me. Given an interesting enough prompt, I will shift my attention to anything no matter what I might be doing currently. “Oh you mean multitasking,” you might say. But no, butterflying is much different from multitasking: multitasking is having four TVs and watching four shows at once; butterflying is having four TVs and watching one show for five seconds, pausing it, watching the second show for five seconds, pausing it, and so on and so forth until you’ve pissed off everyone else in the room. For instance, I’m walking down the street conversing with a friend when I see a store selling mochi, a Japanese sweet made from pounded rice and sweet bean paste and then BAM–all the world is mochi. Mochi is the only thing in the universe that matters; maybe even the only thing in the universe that exists. It’s really hard to know which unless the mochi were to weigh in.
And this is all well and good, unless the friend I was having a conversation with was my wife or if I happened to be operating an automobile and accidentally spotted some mochi. Those are the circumstances where being a butterfly really bites you in the butt–erfly. Because apparently it’s a sign of, like, maturity or responsibility to be able to maintain focus on more than one thing for a sustained period of time. I guess I’ll just have to try har