Photographs by Nancy Malcolm
I love dragonflies. I love to photograph them and I find great pleasure and challenge in capturing their beauty while they flit through life, pausing only seconds before taking off again. The dragonfly symbolizes change and change in the perspective of self realization. In other words; the dragonfly symbolizes growing up, maturing and becoming oneself. Doing everything you said you wouldn’t and not doing what you said you would…growing up!
The dragonfly can actually move in six directions: hover like a helicopter, fly backwards like a hummingbird, fly straight up, down and on either side. All of these moves are easily accomplished at an amazing 45 mph speed. In my life, as in the dragonfly world, I am learning that life requires some pretty clever moves. Two steps forward, one step back, dodge a financial blow, sidestep a bad relationship…above all else, keep moving! Hover above the storm. Although occasionally, the backwards move is necessary to get out of a situation that just doesn’t feel right.
As I “mature”, I’m realizing that no matter how my life started, no matter what I have been through, right now I know that I’ve had a charmed life. Like the dragonfly, I’ve skimmed across water and glancing at my reflection, I see not only what’s on the surface, but the deeper life…what really counts. The dragonfly’s agile flight exudes a sense of power and poise, something that comes only with age and maturity. In my mind, the dragonfly knows that even if his wing tips low, or a gale force wind blows, it’s his heart and soul that propels him onward. He simply must be what God created him to be.
The adult dragonfly is characterized by large multifaceted eyes, two pairs of strong transparent wings and an elongated body. These huge eyes give them incredible vision in almost every direction except directly behind them. Isn’t that the truth in life? Hindsight is always 20-20… I would like to think that the eyes really are the window to the soul. What am I looking at and for how long? Am I looking to the good and loving qualities of others or am I spending too much time looking for the bad? Am I looking to the past for my future? These large powerful eyes remind me to look beyond my limitations, beyond the doubt into the realm of possibilities.
The dragonfly lives most of its life as a nymph and his adult life lasts only a few months. Not a very long life span, but definitely a billboard for living one day at a time. It seems true for me as well. I spent a lot of my life in immaturity, wanting to be a grown up and yet not knowing how. And then suddenly waking up at 63 and wondering when did I mature, or did I?
I think it’s a slow process, sometimes painful, sometimes exhilarating and always an adventure. Dragonflies are comfortable on water, land and in the air, they are adaptable and make the most of their time on this earth. That’s what I want to do.