Last week these Mary Oliver words from her book, The Leaf and the Cloud, attached themselves to my consciousness:
"The dragonfly lives its life without a single error. . . ."
A simple insect. Beautiful and evocative of amazing symbolism. Sublimely unaware of the many metaphors born from its being.
A simple insect, whose life consists primarily of feeding and reproducing. At no time does it concern itself with whether it's enough, or whether it's eating the right kind of mosquito, or whether its mate is communicating enough. It does exactly as its meant to do without any concept of error.
Yet it appears so extraordinary to humans, who question everything, that we've given it great meaning. We look to it for answers, for comfort, for the wisdom of the ages. The dragonfly existed before dinosaurs and in that time of outsized life was the largest insect to ever have existed. Maybe those credentials are enough to warrant the faith we place in its appearance in our lives.
Its adaptability is surely a model worth looking at. I doubt that at any time did a dragonfly think tank get together and decide that the species needed to fly faster, change colors or become smaller in order to survive. Dragonflies have lived life without error for eons. Because it's all they can do.
A simple insect which stands for so much: spiritual maturity, reflection of light, the power of light, balance, joy, the souls of the dead. The dragonfly inhabits two worlds, water and air. Born in water, moving to air, but never far from its birthplace. It finds its power and full color in the warmth and light of summer.
One legend tells of dragonflies darning closed the lips of those who lie. So, in a way, this perfect insect is also the keeper of truth.
A life of sunlight and endless sky with water for ground. A life of color and dancing and unconscious importance. A life lived without error.
A simple insect.
photo from Flickr