The dawn of a new era

Yes, save one other post, I’ve been quiet after the end of the Space City Pinball League season. In seasons past, I haven’t been up to much. This time, I have been planning something truly different. Something that will hopefully set apart my identity as a pinball and video game competitor a bit, and give the fans I have something to unite behind when cheering me on. Something that can only be described as the most radical personal branding effort I have made to date.

That something is my new personal tagline and hashtag: Rock the Butterfly (or #rockthebutterfly as a hashtag).

As of the evening of Friday, 2017 November 17, I registered and both the bare domain name and the “www” hostname under it redirect to this blog (lest someone rushes out and grabs it right after I make this announcement and tries to sell it back to me for some FSM-damned obscene amount). I am working on a T-shirt design for #rockthebutterfly (alongside a possible T-shirt design for the B division win).

So you’re probably asking, “Why butterflies? And, why ‘rock’ the butterfly?”

I chose the butterfly as a symbol based on two separate but equally important meanings: transcendence (metamorphosis) and the magic of believing.

The transcendence part is pretty obvious. The caterpillar transforms into a butterfly and in the process, sets aside everything that it once knew to take on an entirely different means of existence. This symbolic meaning of the butterfly draws a direct parallel to the journey I have taken in my own life, in particular, the journey from who I was about 25 years ago to the person I am today. I’m not going to go into detail here, but 25 years ago I was a person you didn’t want to be around and, for that matter, that you didn’t want your friends or family members around either. It has been a slow, deliberate, painful, emotional, and indirect journey, but today I can truthfully say I can look back at who I was then and be proud of the person I have become since.

One of the final pieces of the puzzle was missing until 2008 when I started doing some volunteering and charity fundraising-related efforts. Oddly enough, it wasn’t a part of my life I knew was missing until I volunteered a couple of times and reflected back on the experience once it was over. It did take me a while to find out what I got the most satisfaction from; in the beginning, I was not nearly as picky about when and where I volunteered. Fast forward to about a year ago, and at that time I decided to formally shift my focus to primarily arts-related organizations (though there are a few other events and campaigns, most notably Extra Life, that are outside of that focus that I am continuing with or taking on anew for other reasons). A more detailed explanation is beyond the scope of this post, and possibly even this blog, though I may bend the rules and post it later anyway. (Incidentally, I wrote the majority of this post a few hours after completing a short arts-related volunteer assignment and before going to bed to get ready for another arts-related volunteer assignment tomorrow morning, which is atypical for me but it just so happens that these two events are on the same weekend every year.)

As important as transcendence is in the butterfly’s symbolism (at least as it relates to me), the magic of believing cannot be ignored. And yet again, it goes back to my game 3 (Medieval Madness) in the semifinals of the just-completed season of the Space City Pinball League. Before I plunged ball 3 (the final ball of the game) into play, I took a brief moment to think to myself “this is not over, you can win this, you have to believe in yourself.” I was down by a margin that, usually, meant the game was effectively over: 3.2M+ versus a first-place score of 11.7M+. I had never put up anywhere near 25 million points in one ball on Medieval Madness. Ever. Certainly not in the semifinals of a tournament where it meant the difference between making the finals and going home early. And it was the magic of believing in myself that was the first step in making it a reality. That magic carried over through all three games of the finals, and I became the B division champion for the 2017 Fall season. That brought satisfaction for the immediate moment, but of course, I want more than that.

The “rock” in “Rock the Butterfly” means to wear or display, particularly with pride (definition 4 in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as of this writing). As a male pinball player who has had his (hetero-)sexuality questioned on more than one occasion, I have no reservations about my selection of the butterfly as a personal symbol despite its feminine connotations and at least one interpretation that says the butterfly represents feminine energy. Like a lot of other things needlessly associated with gender, I’m not a fan of this “butterflies are for girls” thing. It is, as the British might say, a bleeding pile of rubbish. The first step in challenging such a raging dumpster fire of a gender label is to buck the trend. Someone has to be first to step over the line, to be the change one wishes to see in the world. And thus I step. I’ve taken some challenging volunteer assignments in the past; it remains to be seen just how big of a challenge I’ve bitten off this time. But I have learned to thrive on challenges and competition instead of shying away from them. I am willing to accept this one and see where it goes.

And that’s why I rock the butterfly.