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The metaphor of the butterfly in The Vanishing Café

Butterflies are usually a fairly obvious metaphor - it’s the caterpillar that transforms into the colourful butterfly. It’s all about transformation and coming out of your shell towards a new beginning and a new you. Something fairly ugly becomes a colourful, delicate fluttering insect that brings joy to us on days when we don’t expect it.

In The Vanishing Café, the butterfly is a metaphor for the fragility of life and the narrator, Nina’s new journey towards spirituality and seeking inner knowledge. The butterfly appears at vital moments in the novel - a subtle kiss between two characters in the café, to show how Sarah’s marriage fell apart and her vulnerable inner state and the dance that James does, with his swirling dervishes attire on.

Nina knows that the café is a special place when she first enters it because she sees the butterfly outside and feels the presence of her dead grandmother is close by. The butterfly is a prompt and a guide to another doorway and Nina knows that she must enter those realms, to understand a higher knowledge. Life is slow for her, meaningless and shallow, until the café and the butterfly appears, almost like a spirit guide, leading her to what she needs to understand.

We all have signs and wonders in our lives in different forms. The question is whether we choose to see them. Ask yourself if you are living in the moment, observing the very thing that the Universe might be dangling in front of you - to prompt you towards another path, a bigger understanding of yourself and your situation? Or are you closed to the idea and even shut off from it? Is there a message you’re missing out on? Listening to your intuitive voice isn’t easy in a society that can often shun it or ridicule it. People are becoming more aware, however, it’s still a challenge for many. For example, some of my clients are closing doors on themselves or worrying what others think of them. It’s easily done, especially if it’s a close friend or loved one.

To them, I’d say..pause..think and continue to follow your heart. You’re here on the planet for a reason, what’s the reason? People are sitting up everywhere on the planet and asking how to make their world, their environment a better place. It often starts with a sign, an intuitive feeling, a bit of inspiration or guidance. Just like Nina following the butterfly into the café to encounter realms unknown. To take a leap of faith as Kierkegaard said or an adventure beyond reason and logic.