A few years ago, I was in a very bad place in my life. I was trying to get over a loss, and I'd spent more than a year hiding away, avoiding friends, conversations, or challenges. Life wasn't really going anywhere.
Come May and a beautiful springtime, I decided I had to do something to snap out of it. I drove a couple hours out of town and set out on a hiking trail I'd never been on before. I'd heard something about being in nature as a cure for all stresses, or exercise as a mood fix, or something. It had sounded right. I hoped to be entirely alone in the woods, and to emerge at the end of the day finally happy again.
After an hour and a half of walking, and encountering maybe two or three other people, I came out onto a bay on the lake. The pebble beach stretched a couple hundred metres in a wide curve, and the water was still. As I walked along the beach, I noticed how many butterflies were sunning themselves on the rocks.
It was quiet, and warm, and I was looking for an epiphany. I took off my clothes, nervously (I'd never done this before!) and immersed myself in the lake. It was a little bit cold and I was afraid someone else would come along. As I got out, I disturbed a group of sleeping butterflies, and they all flew up around me, swirling, black and yellow. It was beautiful. I stood with my arms outstretched and let them surround me.
This is it, I thought. My mind feels light and free. I have fixed my life, and everything will now be good.
It wasn't, of course. I drove home again and everything was as it had been. But over the next year things did get better, a day at a time, just letting time take its course.
I've never told this story to anyone before.