A windy day on the Danube. It reminds me of the Föhn in the Rhine Valley. Mild, with a certain wildness in every gust of wind. On the bank in the stones I spot a butterfly. It seems to me that it can no longer take off because of the air current
I pick it up to take it to a wind-protected place in the plants. As I hold it in my hand like this, I realise that it is dying. The wings are moving, he wants to fly. It doesn’t work any more. His breath can be felt over the surface of his skin. The little body moves violently up and down
Can animals be afraid of death? It seems to me that the butterfly is in a struggle, a struggle between here and there. Between life and life. I form my hand into a bowl and take the butterfly with me on my walk. I want to stand by it in this struggle.
At rhythmic intervals, the sequence alternates between a fine vibration, fierce breathing movements, attempted wing beating and stillness. Exhaustion, relaxation. I try to convey serenity to him, certainty that it is good, this step out of the body is beautiful. Already experienced, from egg to caterpillar, from caterpillar to butterfly.
I hum a melody to him. A confidential closeness develops. The last breath. A devotional moment for me. Now he is gone. The life is breathed out. I am happy for him. And yet I am sad that I will never see him again. Like this, in this form.
And if a butterfly fluttering its wings in Brazil can cause a hurricane in New York – as the founder of chaos theory, Edward Lorenz, put it as a mnemonic of his new insight in the 1970s – then I wonder what „unpredictable changes“ these last flaps of wings, the last breath, this loving encounter could carry.
„Even the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil can cause a hurricane in Texas.“ With this image, meteorologist Edward Lorenz popularised the nascent field of chaos research, as it were, overnight in the early 1970s. It stood for his observation that minimal disturbances in non-linear systems can lead to drastic, unpredictable changes.