Sunday, October 25, 2009

Shame


The word shame can mean different things to different folk. In my opinion the most common mistake is to confuse it with embarrassment, which is another emotion that doesn't diminish in recalling it. I feel, though that true shame is more related to guilt. And it is in that spirit that I will confess something.

I am a murderer.

No, nothing that I could be arrested for: I have murdered countless butterflies. The somewhat out-of-focus photo below is evidence of both my guilt and my shame.


When we first moved to Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil, Otto and I were fascinated by the clouds of butterflies outside our dining room window or encountered like bright fallen leaves on the ground throughout the nearby woods. Other people at the institute collected butterflies and advised us how best to kill and preserve them. I think we thought of them as something akin to pressed flowers - a way of preserving the beauty of nature. We bought butterfly nets. Many of the butterflies could simply be caught by hand as they rested on tree trunks, tree branches or the ground. Then we enclosed each butterfly in a suitably sized metal can - preferably flat so that they couldn't beat their wings enough to damage the beautiful colors or patterns. We put the cans into our electric freezer where they quickly froze to death.

We made several butterfly trays. Among the butterflies we sought and murdered were the two varieties below. (These photos, for the sake of expediency, were captured from the Web,)

The little fellow above is known as setenta e seis (eighty-eight)
because of the markings on his wings


Yes, I feel both guilt and shame for the needless end to so many shining, flittering little lives

16 comments:

Life with Kaishon said...

So beautiful! I can see why you would want to capture that loveliness dear Granny Smith : ) Oh yes I can! I always love coming to visit you!

Jennifer Hicks said...

I think you are honouring the beauty...no shame in that. Otherwise appreciation for these stunning creatures would only be fleeting.

linda may said...

Lovely flutterbyes.
Granny I liked that you said shame was so closely related to guilt. I was thinking the same after writing my entry on the prompt.

Rinkly Rimes said...

Don't feel shame when you've given them a sort of immortality!

gs batty said...

I think your compassion of today shows great growth. Society was diffeecnt in years past and collecting butterflies was not considered bad. Today with the advent of digital photography we can collect and not destroy. The butterflies are beautiful and I can understand why they captivated you.

b said...

What a wonderful experience...and they truly are like rare jewels. Thank you for sharing.

b

http://torristravels.blogspot.com

Dee Martin said...

They are beautiful and I had never heard of the Eighty Eight before - thanks for sharing.

PS I don't think you are a murderer at all :)

Heliotropism said...

Those butterflies are beautiful. I always wondered how people would capture and kill a butterfly without distorting its appearance. Now I know.

Maggie May said...

It is always a great pity to kill them but I suppose that was the only way to list them and preserve them for the generations to come. The only way of learning.
I am guilty of killing one deliberately as a child and I did feel very guilty.
Just as well be are not buddhists!

Nuts in May

Tumblewords: said...

Your collection probably has valuable evidence of unusual species which would go unnoticed without your help. I think you can pin your shame/guilt to a board and stuff it in the freezer. :) Excellent post!

oldegg said...

What a beautiful confession. What hurts is that they have such short lives and to shorten even that seems more cruel. You must feel much better for telling us. Now don't do it again!

Chapter Forty said...

You are so right about guilt and shame being close relatives. The butterflies are beautiful, dont they only have a short life span anyway?? This way they can live on forever.

if said...

it is so true what you say......we want to hold beauty sometimes in wrong ways ..

S said...

You are so wise. I thought of that, too, about how many of us confuse shame with embarrassment. I think when you caught the butterflies you were thinking of their eternal free beauty- yes, perhaps a bit selfish, but most of us have killed things, like my daughter harps on me about killing crickets in our home and such. I do feel shame from doing so, from not taking the time to bring them outdoors to release them. I, too, love butterflies.

Please drop by for a friendly visit to my writing & photography blog.

Lucy said...

granny you are so cute.
u aren't a murderer. you are an artist and appreciate beauty!xox

Americanising Desi said...

awww Granny that was a wonderfully stated experience!

Shame on me