When I posted last week about watching dragonflies hatch, I didn’t realize at the time it was a metaphor for my current life.
This past week, it seemed every direction I faced there was a wall. Nothing got finished; everything in process, obstacles galore. After about the third frustrating project, the image of the dragonfly nymph popped up. My subconscious was knocking.
I thought back to that afternoon and how I had felt a combination of peace and impatience watching the nymph emerging from its confining caste. The peace because it felt so wondrous, the impatience because it was taking so long.
I remembered how the nymph’s emergence had had spurts of effort followed by long moments of stillness. During the still parts, I imagined the nymph making minute adjustments to its still-restrained body inside the caste, cognizant that a single impulsive movement could tear the delicate membrane of the wings. (I did see a dragonfly that had emerged with crooked, broken wings–heartbreaking–and this dragonfly was doomed. A dragonfly must be able to fly.)
I think anyone who tries something new (which is another word for growth) is like that nymph emerging. And like the nymph that instinctively knows when to push and when to rest and adjust, I think there is a roadmap inside us.
If a dragonfly is given the intrinsic knowledge of how to grow, surely we, as part of nature, are too. There is no guarantee we will be successful (the broken-winged dragonfly) but there is the knowledge, always, waiting for us to only listen.
I’ve been watching my amaryllis grow flower stalks for, jeez, it seems like a month now. They emerged from the awakening bulbs after a month of dormancy and slowly, slowly inched upwards. They are about two feet tall now and the blossom ends are teasing me with the promise of spectacular blooms—someday. Perhaps the sixty degree nights in my house are making them prevaricate. Perhaps I’ve got languid bulbs. Perhaps I am just desperate for the juicy life of spring. But whatever it is and no matter how much I want them to bloom faster, instant gratification in this particular matter is not going to happen. They’ll bloom when they’re ready.
Yesterday I got a letter in the mail. It was a missive from my neighbor responding to a note I had sent her. In my note, I had given her my phone number so she could answer my invitation in a timelier manner. But she chose to write another note back instead. It was wonderful! I felt like I was in Downton Abbey. This languid pace of correspondence rejuvenates me. It gives a body time to reflect, to re-read, to exhale.
So I watch my pokey amaryllis, I re-read the note, brushing my fingers over the paper and I marvel at the civility and space each has created for me in this hurry-up world. The waiting, I find, has a nourishment all its own.
This morning I woke up to an insistent bird song, over and over, clear and repeated. In my subconscious brain I said “oriole” but when my conscious brain took over, something wasn’t quite right for an oriole. Eventually the call came in the tree right outside. That was enough to make me get out of bed and crouch by the window. The bird was right there, but leaves obscured him and I only got a glimpse of his head, beak open in song. But because the light was behind him, his head was in silhouette and I couldn’t identify him.
I was awake now, so I got dressed and went to the pond grate to clean it out—it was heavily blocked from the night’s beaver activity—pulling the pond muck into the wheelbarrow to use as mulch for my garden. As I was mucking, the darn birdcall came again. And once again, I could only see a silhouette against a far tree. I finished the mucking and went inside to get the binoculars. I stood outside in the middle of the yard. But of course, there was no birdcall. I swatted at mosquitoes. Nothing. I went inside to have coffee.
Then, sitting at my computer, sipping coffee, a clear, LOUD birdcall came through my open window. I jumped up. There, not ten feet from me, was a brilliant orange and black bird. Baltimore Oriole. Showing himself off. Tired of the game, maybe. Or maybe taking pity on me.
I’ve been sending out query letters all this week and as much as I want an instant response, it hasn’t happened. But Mr. Baltimore Oriole reminded me that sometimes if you can just wait, what you want will come to you.