So flitting about my house today, I noticed this:
A dragonfly (actually, it’s probably a damselfly looking at its size, but I digress).
I then posted this to Instagram and Facebook:
Some of you know I have a lifelong thing with dragonflies: they were something my mother and I shared, artistically (jewelry, paintings, poems) and then later in my life they started following me everywhere. To the degree that others mentioned it to me, saying “Do you see …?” Yes, I see. It usually means Pay Attention, This Is Important. It sometimes is just a love letter for (or from?) my Mama. I remember two months after she died, in completely the wrong season for dragonflies, I found myself in a field with hundreds and hundreds of them, flying their geometric patterns. My friend who was with me was like, Oh my god, what’s happening? But I knew it was for me. So look what I found today. A dragonfly, its wings and life stilled, somehow lodged behind a portrait of my son, after we celebrated his 13th birthday this weekend. My father died six years ago last week; my mother died six years ago in 18 days. Hi, mom. Hi, dad. Zack is doing great and he carries much within him you would recognize from me, which is, of course, from you. I miss you. I love you. I’m still flying between two worlds as the dragonfly does (creature of air and water), looking for my answers. And now I can actually say I believe I will get there. #instastory#dragonfly #dragonflies #animaltalisman#theworldisimpossiblybeautiful
And I have to say, I am really struck by the responses. I’m so happy other people walk through the world feeling like there are small messages being sent to them all the time. I call them “Postcards from the Universe.” If you’ve read my book, you know that during my breakup with my husband that water played a ridiculously outsized role in drumming messages into me: Pay Attention Now. This Is What Matters. Don’t Be Distracted By Anger. Listen To What You Must Learn. Life Is Not Against You (and neither is your husband, even though he is leaving you).
But they have always been with me. My mother was rather a numinous creature, so it is not surprising that she would have gifted me with the ability to drift between worlds, whether literal worlds here in our daily lives (which is why I’m a good journalist: I belong to everyone and no one), or metaphoric worlds, which allows me, among other things, to dwell in the space where I consider the gifts and burdens of consciousness.
It’s so easy to get distracted by life’s neverending list of Things We Must Do and not spend time drifting in our consciousness, feeling the incredible experience of being human, of being mortal yet possessing something deep and alive and immortal within us.
When I saw the dragonfly I remembered — in the middle of my busy day — that my parents were but a whisper on this planet, though their voices resonate still; that my own life is meaningless in the grand scheme of things, though I know I’ve done my best to live in and create love everywhere I go; that everything is ineffably impermanent, in ways that both create tremendous relief (we can and do survive unspeakable pain, over and over and over) as well as a poignant, perpetual regret for all we will not know, will not have, will never understand.
This is the even bigger thing the dragonfly means to me. Chance is chance. Events come in and out of our lives. It’s up to us to decide what matters, and what messages we want to take from these events.
I decided long ago that I live in a magical world, and that I would never be shy to talk about the unsolvable mysteries and the sometimes cruel fate and pain that travel along with us.
I dwell in poetry, in stops and starts, and in those moments everything feels impossibly right.
And then I sit down at my computer and get back to work.
Seize your wonder and hold onto it like a life raft. Because it is one.