Sitting along the edge of the flowering shore, she turned to him and asked him:
“Do you think butterflies know they’re beautiful?”
He cocked his head, slight and in thought, and replied, “I wouldn’t think so. I mean, they haven’t really got a brain they’re just – ” he fumbled, looking for proper words, “They’re just exoskeleton shell, and some thorax and paper-soft wings, and have a head approximately THIS big.” he declared in good humor, while making motion with thumb and forefinger. “Butterflies aren’t really equipped to handle that sort of consciousness, at least, I don’t think.”
She thought about this, a lot longer than she thought she would have, and then said, “A single neuron in the brain is – oh, let’s just say the size of a – , or, well, I am unsure of the exact dimensions – just a handful of microns or such. Let’s just roll with that.”
“Sounds reasonable. Yes, alright, go on.” he reciprocated.
“Well, each little neuron in your brain, is far more than a button on a computer keyboard, or some routine switch or logical binary. It is an autonomous tiny being, operating under its own little plan, or, perhaps agenda! It’s seeking work – seeking purpose. It’s looking to live in a sense, because, if it can not find work to maintain proper living, its receptors start dropping out. That teeny neuron, without work, shall begin to dissipate. So, you could almost say that minuscule, agenda-filled neuron, with its minuscule mass, is aware that it’s going to die.”
“…And?” he poked.
“And,” she said kindly with a smile, “Is it then so hard to believe, that a butterfly might have an inkling of insecurity, if a single neuron can have an inkling of its own mortality? Is that not a fascinating philosophical prospect!”
“Well!” he bumped, then, he too started thinking about it, for longer than he thought he would have, “… Well, I would suppose so! When you go and put it that way, I guess it is quite possible. Heck – why not! I’m certainly not a butterfly.”
She gave a high chuckle, “I think so too! I find it a nice thought.” and she smiled, watching the lilies waft in the water of the green and sea-bright scene, the horizon misting into pink, and lithely added, “But, I doubt it.”
“Wha – Doubt it?!” he professed, “Such a well, spontaneously thought argument – and you say, ‘I doubt it’?”
“Well, yes!” she hooted, “Have you ever watched butterflies? Always strutting off, and flapping their endowments all over the place! That butterfly knows it’s hot stuff!” she said and pointed to a monarch flitting across the view.
In agreement together they laughed, and sat and talked in simple happiness as the light fell to pieces around them in the passing hours, blushing into the night sky. Then, they said their goodbyes, and parted ways into the silky dusk, each of them pondering about the butterflies.