Life as an Extreme Sport

The Blue Butterfly

A blue morpho.

One of the most amazing things I saw when I was in Costa Rica was the blue morpho, and absolutely divine, irridescent blue butterfly. They range in colour from this deep blue sea to sea blue that fades to sea green, all the way over to the sky light irridescence pictured above. I had a chance to walk among them in a butterfly sanctuary in the Monteverde Cloud Forest, and I’m pretty sure it’s one of those experiences that will always stick with me.

The Blue Butterfly

So it’s no surprise that the cover for the movie The Blue Butterfly jumped out at me when I was at the rental store the other night. Intrigued enough to stop, I picked it up and read the description, and as is the marketing addage, once I had picked it up, I didn’t put it back down. I watched the movie this afternoon.

So what is it about? Quite simple, the movie is about a terminally ill ten year old boy who’s fascinated by insects, his mother, and a famous entomologist who is persuaded to take the boy to the Costa Rican rain forest to capture his own blue morpho before he dies. The entomologist carries the boy through the rain forest in an effort to catch the beautiful blue butterfly. The adventure ends joyously; on his return from the rain forest, his cancer has miraculously gone into remission until it disappears completely.

William Hurt and Marc Donato

Sound improbable? I thought so, too… until I noticed that it was based on a true story. was diagnosed with cancer at 6 years old, in 1987. It was aggressive and terminal brain cancer, and in 1988 the Children’s Wish Foundation famed entomologist Georges Brossard to take David to Mexico to catch his own blue morpho.

At age 18, David stopped taking his medications, and today is both cancer and medication free. Today he’s an inspirational lecturer at hospitals and schools, as well as having his own butterfly house. In 2002, he visited the set of The Blue Butterfly, and caught another blue morpho – on his own two legs.

I was in a really bad mood today. I’ve not been practicing Buddhism or yoga or tai chi. I’ve been tense since moving in with my parents, and my stress levels shot through the roof when I was informed that my home department has yet to submit a necessary grade, and if the university doesn’t receive that grade in the next week, I will not be granted graduating status. This would be bad, to say the very least – my admission to graduate school is completely contigent upon that spring graduation. I called the department and left a terse message, which in itself makes me sad and frustrated.

So sitting down to the movie, I wasn’t in the best headspace, and the movie didn’t really help. It was, to say the least, slow. A very quiet and slow buildup, with lots of long shots and tight close-ups of gorgeous bugs and greenery. I found myself constantly looking at the time for the first 40 minutes of the movie, wondering how long it was, should I get up to check the box, how long could they drag this idea out, and so forth.

And then something happened. My breathing slowed, the tension drained from my neck, my shoulders dropped and rounded, my hands unclenched. I began to breathe with the gentle music playing, and drink in the gorgeous scenery, the amazing bugs, and relax into the story being told. An hour flowed by without my looking up from the screen or shifting in my seat. I was, in a word, enchanted, and it was an enchantment I badly needed.

Of course, the movie is well over, my parents have come home, my brother has thundered through a few times, one of the cats has taken a swat at the dog, and the stress levels in the environment are rising again. But I feel at least a little more centered and able to be relaxed, and at least for a little bit, I found peace.