Cio Cio San



lives in human beings like a note that vibrates from the belly of a cello.  When we listen to one another’s stories we often mistake the longing for its errant manifestations in behaviors which mask it.  If I listen to Un Bel Di Vedremo without the translation- without my mind- I am transported to the depths of soul where we long for connection.  In this place Cio Cio San is the unpinned butterfly waiting to fly, and I am overcome with compassion.

Words get in my way.  When this feminist pacifist hears Cio Cio San plan her vigil for Pinkerton’s return she hears a fifteen-year-old victim surrendering to a racist, jingoistic misogynist who has used her then cast her aside.  I get lost in those behaviors, missing the genuine longing for more than Pinkerton.

This is what I am learning:

When listening to another’s story, listen for the longing.  Let go of judging, let go of the need to fix the behavior first.  Only when we go straight to the longing and hold vigil there on that cliff with the other, is there a chance of changing behavior.  The butterfly lives in the longing.


Feast on Un Bel Di Vedremo from Madama Butterfly sung by Renata Tebaldi, Italian lirico-spinto soprano

photo credit: N00/772515063″>white moth crop via photopin (license)


2 thoughts on “Cio Cio San

  1. Wow, thanks Rita. I try so hard to come from a place of non-judgement in dealing with others, but this insight is so powerful and takes compassion and empathy to a whole new level. This really resonated with me. I keep coming back to read your last lines. Wonderful!


    • I’m glad it helps, Amy. I’ve been working hard on this myself. Hearing just the music I break down weeping, but thinking about the circumstances I want to scream, “Girl, get a grip!!”


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