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When I Grow Old and Wear the Bottom of My Trousers Rolled – The Butterfly Perspective

September 8th, 2019 by Michael Dyet

I grow old.. I grow old…

I shall wear the bottom of my trousers rolled

T.S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

Hmmm, when I grow old and wear the bottom of my trousers rolled, will I have lived as fully as the butterflies of summer?

As I grow older, I bemoan the increasing limitations, aches and pains of the aging process. It frustrates me that I cannot do all the things I could when I was younger nor do them as vigorously or as frequently. Life seems too short for all I want to accomplish.

But occasionally I am reminded of how fortunate I am. My life is measured in years and decades. The winged wonders I pursue have life cycles measured in merely weeks.

Case in point, the Eastern Comma butterfly in the photos set out above. This specimen, shown with wings closed and open, is newly emerged. Its colours are distinct, elegant and sharply contrasting.

When I spot a fresh specimen like this one, I am delighted by, and rather envious of, its’ youthful perfection. I tend to overlook that it has already passed through the caterpillar stage, shedding its’ skin up to five times as it grows, and the chrysalis stage before emerging as the lovely creature I behold.

It will only be granted a few weeks in which to enjoy life as a winged wonder. During that time frame, its beauty will fade and its wings become tattered. Old age, as depicted in the specimen below, will come all too quickly.

Butterflies are a favoured metaphor for transformation. But they are also a metaphor for the life cycle to which are creatures are subject. Whether measured in weeks or decades, life is more a question of quality than quantity.

When I grow old and wear the bottom of my trousers rolled, which is not too far off, I hope I will be to say I enjoyed the seasons I was given as much as the Eastern Comma did.

Now Available Online from Amazon, Chapters Indigo or Barnes & Noble: Hunting Muskie, Rites of Passage – Stories by Michael Robert Dyet

~ Michael Robert Dyet is also the author of Until the Deep Water Stills – An Internet-enhanced Novel which was a double winner in the Reader Views Literary Awards 2009. Visit Michael’s website at

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