Titanium Butterflies

A titanium butterfly.

An odd combination, perhaps.

The element titanium is atomic number 22. Its melting point is a massive 1941 degrees Kelvin, or 3034 degrees Fahrenheit. At room temperature, it’s a comfortable solid, as strong as steel but 45% lighter. It isn’t easily corroded. It can be fantastically pretty when worked. And it’s also the only element that will burn in pure nitrogen.

Butterflies are the adult flying stage of the order Lepidoptera. It’s Greek for “scaly wings,” since their colorful patterns are produced through the thousands of overlapping tiny scales on the surface of those delicate structures. Some are poisonous, like the Monarch butterfly, which consumes the poisonous milkweed plant as a caterpillar and remains toxic in adulthood, protecting itself from consumption by predators. Others rely on camouflage, effectively becoming invisible against certain surfaces. Butterflies are lightweight fliers; strong winds batter them. They hibernate during the winter or migrate away from cold weather. They are daytime soarers, basking in the sun, often feeding on flowers, flitting about but still managing to get the job done in the end in remarkably good time, as anyone who has ever tried to catch one (even on film) will admit.

Strength. Lightness. Resistance to high temps, but the ability to burn where all else will extinguish. But simultaneously, a fragility, the only defense of which might be to poison oneself or hide. But within that fragility, what beauty, what an ability to adapt, to fly, to symbolize change even on a (relatively) short timetable!

By now, you’re probably guessing where I’m going with this. I feel sometimes like a titanium butterfly. Who am I? A graduate student, in the midst of change and upheavals, now showing my colors, now hiding. A young adult, flying free on fragile wings. A professor and musician, who must be highly resistant to the pressures of performance, whatever the sphere. A chronic illness patient, a titanium warrior in an ephemeral form. A Christian, striving to show that higher power within, burning even where all other light must fail.

This blog is my way of reaching out to others – to feel less alone in a world where, like many others, I’m locked into my own mind far too much –  to deal with pain on this strange and wonderful blue ball. It mostly covers aspects of life and chronic illness, but it will also be about music and cooking and photography and education, the things that I burn for on this earth, and the appreciation of beauty and light and life and friendship. I’ll not hide my faith or how it helps me, but this isn’t intended to be a devotional page.

This blog is intended for all of those who read about the strength and beauty of an elemental metal and an insect, and strangely enough see something of themselves… this is for all the titanium butterflies out there. Soar high and strong.

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