In The Lifetime Of A Butterfly

My dog is getting a reputation in the neighborhood. Every day around 12 pm, I tell myself he couldn’t possibly spend another second in his crate. Then, every day around 12:02 pm, you’ll find Dewey laying in the neighbor’s yard because he has absolutely no interest in going on a walk at noon. It’s way too hot for both of us. 

The other thing you’ll see? A toy hanging from his mouth. In the short distance from his crate to the door, this dog consistently finds something to take on his “walk,” if you call 20 steps in either direction a walk. The neighbors have taken note. While they may not say anything to me, they always say hello to Dewey and ask about his toy of the day. I’m learning to appreciate these little things that happen when you stay still, like meeting your neighbors.

Dewey facilitates most of these meetings. I’m not that brave. He is small, cute, and impossible to resist. If you ignore the dog? We don’t need to meet. We likely wouldn’t be friends anyway. Dewey was my introduction to Kathy, my neighbor. My girlfriend and I were sitting outside having breakfast. Of course, the second Kathy stepped on her back steps, my dog leapt up to meet his new friend. Like any good human, she said hello to the dog then both of us. 

After we introduced ourselves, she turned her chair around to face the back of the house. “I’m not weird,” she said out loud. “I’m harvesting butterflies. Do you want to see?” We wandered over to find two wooden boxes: one with leaves poking out of floral water tubes and another that looked empty from that angle. She explained that each of the leaves held one tiny caterpillar, no bigger than a few millimeters long. After crouching down, I could see that the empty box was actually quite full. In rows along the top, there were several chrysalises. These small brown pods were seemingly unremarkable, but inside each was a monarch butterfly to be. 

Now, every time I see Kathy on my walks with Dewey she teaches me more about these butterflies. I’ve learned about where you can find them on plants, the markings that make them unique, and even how long they live – the lifetime of a butterfly is just five or six weeks in total. While I’ve always had an appreciation for these beautiful creatures, their short life span only made them more fascinating to me. I guess it’s the idea that something so beautiful only has so long to live. That every time you see a butterfly it’s living the best days of a short life. 

As a human with a longer life span, I find it easy to forget that life is short. I take these days for granted when the chaos of life sets in, dreading the days instead of acknowledging just how much can change in a small amount of time. It feels corny to say that we can’t take these days for granted, but I’ve seen life transform first hand. Not just in a box of butterflies, but in people’s lives. The way a new job can transform our confidence for the good. How someone can leave the house to go to the gym and never return. Our lives and the way we live them every days can change more quickly than we realize.

So on these days I might dread, I hope I can remember things change. That there’s something beautiful about how short a life is, even if it’s much longer than the lifetime of a butterfly. 

Weekly Letters

Kat Kibben View All →

Kat Kibben [they/them] is a keynote speaker, writing expert, and LGBTQIA+ advocate who teaches hiring teams how to write inclusive job postings that will get the right person to apply faster.

Before founding Three Ears Media, Katrina was a CMO, Technical Copywriter, and Managing Editor for leading companies like Monster,, and Randstad Worldwide. With 15+ years of recruitment marketing and training experience, Katrina knows how to turn talented recruiting teams into talented writers who write for people, not about work.

Today, Katrina is frequently featured as an HR and recruiting expert in publications like The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Forbes. They’ve been named to numerous lists, including LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Job Search & Careers. When not speaking, writing, or training, you’ll find Katrina traveling the country in their van or spending some much needed downtime with the dogs that inspired the name Three Ears Media.

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