Surviving The Gauntlet …. and Butterflies

A few weeks ago I was in the throes of an optometric gauntlet; a brutal week of 5 back to back finals over 5 days to cap off the summer semester of the second year of optometry school. The air was thick with the collective self-doubt of the class and tensions were running high. Each of us was hopeful for an easy way out … but the only way out, was through. In a particularly desperate attempt, I took a page from Garfield’s playbook abuse of his foil Nermal and attempted to mail myself to Abu Dhabi. It was a futile escape plan that only ate into my precious studying time. During the week, sleep was sparse, nutrition was selected solely by convenience and grooming habits had become a forgotten pastime. I am only 2 dramatic sentences away from depicting the difficulty of that week as the equivalent of Maleficent’s evilness.

I’ve actually never watched Sleeping Beauty before, or if I did, I don’t remember it. This seems weird to me, because I love everything Disney and my favorite activity is watching animated movies. I think I tried to watch it once a few years ago but only made it to the scene in the forest where Sleeping Beauty is singing to the animals or something. I can only imagine how riveting her repetitious progression through sleep cycles is, so I’m sorry that I have yet to witness it. Despite the fact that I’m not familiar with the plot of the movie, I am aware that Malificent has the reputation of ‘Baddest Disney villain of all time'(take a seat Jafar). So if this finals week deserves to be compared to any villain, I’m sticking with Maleficent.

Like all my other trademark melodrama, the fear and anticipation of the week were worse than the actual week itself. Before I knew it, all the tests were complete and I had survived to tell the tale. The end of summer semester meant that I had additional free time to tend to my neglected back yard. As I began to ponder how my worries often tend to be misplaced, I was attacked! Not by the usual suspects: a criminal, a rabid dog, a wasp, or a possessed ventriloquist dummy … I was attacked by a butterfly. Nature’s elegant and benign decorative insect. Butterflies are known for being pretty, quiet, agreeable, and never taking the last slice of pizza in a group setting. They are supposed to be harmless doormats … but when I say attacked – I mean hair ruffled, head bunting level of attacked.  I naturally handled this situation with the grace and dignity of the professional that I aspire to be by screaming, flailing my arms and sprinting into my house, where I quietly sobbed for 4 minutes.

This was the reward waiting for me after a long week of studying and hard work. Was the butterfly real or was it a metaphor? A metaphor attempting to teach me that no matter how scary life can seem sometimes, there is always something WAY more intense and scary out there, so it’s important to put things into perspective? The answer: It was real. How do I know this for sure? Because I was attacked two more times AND while writing this blog I looked outside my window and witnessed it, yet again, acting all disturbed and ramming into my patio umbrella.

The moral of my attack is this: butterflies are hideous evil creatures that have lured us into a sense of false security to the point that we are effectively defenseless for the impending human/butterfly war. Well played our new overlords. No, not really. The moral is that things aren’t often nearly as bad as they seem and a lot of the time, we have more control in situations than we really believe. Things could always be a lot worse: you could be fighting for your life vs an enraged butterfly that wants nothing more than to see you destroyed. Good luck out there!