“Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.”

— Nathaniel Hawthorne

I wrote yesterday about my restlessness at being plunked down in the middle of a resort town at the New Jersey shore.  Wildwood is a bit too wild for my taste — not the unspoiled and natural sort of “wild,” but the “wild ride” sort of wild that is manufactured and mechanical and noisy.  I must say that I spent a good bit of my time there pursuing happiness and not being able to catch it.

In the midst of all the hubbub, a most surprising thing took place; and it filled me with joy in spite of my wishes to be somewhere else.  My four youngest grandchildren, Oskar, Cheyenne, Atticus, and Harper were digging in the sand.  They built mountains and dug rivers.  They sang impromptu songs that were so much a part of their joy in the moment that it was hard to believe they hadn’t been composed, taught to them, and practiced. “Gonna dig lots of rivers, oh yeah!” sang the five-year-olds.  Suddenly, Cheyenne let out a small shriek.  She had been startled by the sensation of something landing on her shoulder.  As she looked more closely, her shock became delight.

“I always WANTED a butterfly!” she sang.  “Can I take it home, Mommy?”

“Well…let’s see if it decides to stick around.”

“Look!” Chey called out again and again, “I have a butterfly!”

“Don’t touch its wings,” he mother cautioned, “it takes the fairies a long time to paint the dust on them just right!”

Chey and her butterfly spent a good fifteen minutes together.  The dug in the sand, they sang their digging songs, they walked to the water’s edge and back.  Only when we began the walk from the beach back to the motel did her magical friend decide to take flight.

I suppose some would say that her wings had been wet and finally were dry enough to carry her into the sky again.  Some would say that it was a rare coincidence.  Cheyenne knows better than that.  When we returned to the motel that afternoon, she found a penny — face up — lying on the pool deck.  Later that night, at the end of an evening of noisy boardwalk fun, a little voice came up from the stroller rolling next to me.

“I can’t believe I wanted my whole life to have a butterfly, and today it came and sat on my arm!  And I found a lucky penny, too!”

She beamed with the delight of knowing that of all the days in the history of the world, this had been the best ever.

“I guess it was just your lucky day,” I replied.

“Yes,” Cheyenne answered with conviction, “I know.”