Of Birds & Moths: A story of Introspection

BY: Kimberly Johnson

It’s early morning. Someone is singing in harmony.


The melody penetrates the wooden walls of my bungalow. I remember.  I am in Costa Rica.

I feel the chill of the morning air. I hear the cries of the wind. Although I am far from home, these things are familiar to me. I am reminded of restful and carefree mornings at Grandma’s. I miss those days.

I believe Mother Nature is constantly trying to teach us something. So I’ve been attentive – or have tried to be.

One morning hike, our red-cheeked Resident Naturalist Sandy puts it politely: “Quiet down a bit, remember this is not your space alone.” Besides her gentle voice, occasional questions, mumbles, and the click of our cameras, we have remained (for the most part) discreet.

We are beginning to observe—and really listen.

Having life all around me, I have begun to reflect on what it means to live. We humans like to feel understood. You know? And here I feel a sort of connectedness with the environment that is, in a word– soothing.

Fourteen thousand.

This is approximately the number of moth and butterfly species that call Costa Rica home.

I could not get a good look at her. This large winged moth was larger than both the palms of my hands. She was a beauty. She flapped her wings hastily as if in immediate danger. But she didn’t travel far. She hadn’t been trapped, nothing was stopping her, but she stayed there. She stayed there so frantic, never still.

I was scared for her. I was scared for her because she reminded me a lot of myself.

They say they—the moths and butterflies—are free, fluttering and happy. Instead I have begun to think of them as anxious, panicked, scared.

They may rest for a second, but before the click of the camera they are off again, flapping in a burst of haste.

I thought of my Grandmother and felt that something had changed.

That young free-spirited girl who spent mornings at Grandma’s had become something … different. Something like this moth. Anxious, panicked, scared…

With a life full of exams, papers, school, finances, career aspirations, and social life, I feel weighed down by stress. Strung to these “superficial” matters of living and succeeding, no longer do I live in the moment. No longer am I free and this awareness scares me—and living in Costa Rica makes me so much more aware of where my life is—and perhaps should be.

But for now, for this morning, just like every other that I have spent here, I am awakened by the cries of the wind and the harmony outside my window. Life doesn’t alarm me. I lay there.

It’s the birds.

The moths can wait.


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