Like a moth to a flame, I was always drawn to the light, it has only been through living, sometimes painfully and brokenly, that I now understand how deceptive some light can be, how hot it can burn, and how deeply the scars can go once the flame has been extinguished.
I write poetry and prose under the name mothjournal14.
The name came naturally. At the age of 14, my father shared a piece of wisdom that resonated and thus became a part of my journey and my writing. I recounted the story in my journal in 2011 following my dad’s unexpected passing, mostly because I wanted to ensure my daughters would always have it, but also to honor him.
Journal excerpt from June 2011: I sat in the sun watching a few butterflies light on the baskets of hanging flowers adorning the gazebos. They were small and colorful. Their wings were almost see-through. Seeing them reminded me of my Dad for some reason and something he had said to me years before.
“Have you ever watched a moth,” he had asked me, “it flies toward the light. Always toward the light.”
He was standing on a ladder, changing the bulbs in the front porch light fixtures. We had a long front porch that extended the length of the house complete with a swing. I had been sitting on the swing holding the fresh light bulbs, waiting to hand them to him.
“Come here, Jupiter,” he had called, “look at this.” I can’t remember exactly when or why he’d started calling me Jupiter, but the name had stuck. He was holding one of the light fixtures out to me. I peeked inside and saw the remains of many insects, mostly moths of various sizes and colors.
“The moth desires the light so much,” Dad had explained, “that it will fly into it repeatedly searching for the source.” He then shook the glass fixture into a garbage pail. The insect remains fluttered into the trash like dust. “The moth never understands what will happen,” he had continued as he placed the now clean fixture over the newly installed bulb I’d handed him a moment before, “until it is too late.”
“What do you mean,” I’d asked him, not really understanding his words.
“The moth eventually finds the source,” he explained, indicating the trash can into which he had released the now dead bugs, “and is consumed by it.”
I was fourteen when my father had first explained the mystery of the moth and the light to me. He’d told me that I reminded him of the moth. It would not be the first time he’d say this. At thirteen, I’d listened, but hadn’t really understood. At sixteen, I’d listened impatiently but hadn’t really cared. At twenty-one, I was halfway to the source, but unaware. At thirty-five the light had grown hotter, but I was too wrapped up in myself to remember my father’s words.
By, forty-four, the flame had nearly consumed me.
It would take me another seven years before I would finally emerge from the fire and begin to heal.