Pursuing Life's Daring Adventure

Monday, January 5, 2009

2009: a Once-in-a-Lifetime Year

It’s the New Year, the Christmas break we all loved is now past, and the kids are back in school … hard to believe. Looking down the slope for 2009, before giving the slide a whirl, I like to take a few moments to reflect.

Recently, I sorted through photographs from 2008, to share with a friend. In my case, with photographs, since I am constantly hauling around my D-SLR, I have many. Many many. And in looking back, I found several that were once-in-a-lifetime. Most of those, of course, were of the family, doing things we’ll never do quite the same way again. I’m so glad we’ve captured those moments to look back on. But one other photograph in particular has held my attention for the past few days. Maybe it’s part of my New Year’s reflections.

This photograph sticks in my mind because of its quiet beauty—a photograph of a zebra swallowtail butterfly in our backyard. Though the photograph is imperfect being somewhat off-center, I wouldn’t change a single thing.

© Jennifer Lyn King, http://www.jenniferlynking.com/, 2008.
Before that lazy summer day, I had only seen a zebra swallowtail butterfly in books, though our backyard flowers frequently attract other types of swallowtails. This zebra, beautifully adorned with black and white stripes and a detailing of crimson and azure near the base of its tail, was hard to miss.

That day, our seven-year-old sited it first. After the scramble for my camera, we approached slowly and maintained our distance, trying not to scare the amazing butterfly away. But after this zebra hung out with us in the lavender patch for many minutes, we found it so unafraid it was practically brushing our arms with its wings. Usually, swallowtails flutter incessantly, making good photographs difficult to take. But with this zebra swallowtail, it seemed as if he was as interested with watching us while sipping his lavender nectar as we were in observing him.

When I downloaded the photographs later that day, I discovered this shot—a magnificent rendering of that zebra swallowtail mid-flight. Soaring. After years of sitting still for hours attempting to photograph hummingbirds and butterflies in our gardens, I know I will never capture something like that again. Some things come around only once-in-a-lifetime.

This coming year is sure to be filled to the brim with new experiences, some good, some great, some terrifying—just like my 2008. It must be human nature to clench our fists when faced with something new, whether out of the need to hold on tight or out of the desire to keep things just the same. But one thing I’m continually learning as the calendar pages pass is that through all of the experiences, if I can remember to pry my fists open and quietly trust, things will be okay.

Remember how preschoolers make a butterfly out of their hands? By opening their hands and linking thumbs, a butterfly can be made. Maybe that’s the case for our lives as well—as we stop clinging so tightly, open our hands and relax, we can find the way to spread our wings and fly as well. Perhaps this is our year to open up to possibility and soar.

2009 is sure to be full of once-in-a-lifetime moments. I hope to have my eyes and hands open and ready to catch the joys as they fly by so that I may, too, spread my wings and soar.


  1. That's a beautiful photo Jennifer! We have zebra swallowtail here but they are rare. Since I am a 'natural' gardener (using native plants when possible) I feel encouraged to plant some paw paw. That's the plant that encourages said butterfly to stay and feed here in Georgia. Thanks for the inspiration!
    God bless. May you have a wonderful & prosperous New Year.
    Sparky ♥ ∞

  2. Thank you, Sparky ... I find it interesting that zebra swallowtails are rare down where I thought they would be more popular. Ohio is a far trek north from you for those beautiful wings!
    Thank you for the kind words.
    Enjoy today,


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