The inside joke of “That’ll be in the book!” has often been referenced to in my group of friends. This joke refers to an idea my best friend and I had – that she would one day write her memoirs and publish them, memoirs which would include detailed descriptions of any and all unusual happenings during our high school years. Happenings such as biology labs gone wrong, card games with uncommon amounts of swearing and injuries, or the scheduled “fight in the A Street Parking Lot”; in short, the things that made our high school years the roller-coaster ride they were.
One October day, my friend and I were talking as usual and I said “Quantum abstractions are fun!” Laughing and pointing out that such a phrase should be included in her memoirs, my friend pointed out that her memoir needed an epigraph. Thinking about a suitable phrase to describe her, I wrote “With passing bursts of euphoria and depression, the butterfly alights on a new thought, whether violent or peaceful, each second.” I feel it refers to the unique nature of our friendship, but its true meaning is different for each person.
Upon examining this phrase, my friend and I thought it highlights the two extremes of a person’s character as well as exhibiting how humans must struggle to be able to keep up with the mercurial changes of life. Perhaps, it is a statement about the flawed nature of human existence – note the juxtaposition of euphoria/violence with depression/peace. Others have seen different ideas as to what the statement describes – it could be about the possibility of change or how short-lived spontaneity can be. Others are reminded of Chaos Theory and the Butterfly Effect. Others find interesting imagery evoked in their minds, such as that of electrical synapses firing or more literally, an errant and unsuspecting butterfly lazily fluttering along…then being snapped up by a hungry bird.
It all leads to an important question: is deeper meaning channeled from a writer’s mind to a piece of writing, or is deeper meaning in a piece nonexistent until constructed by a reader?