This summer it is likely you, as I, will spend time near water—a lake, pond, or river. In doing so we will inevitably witness one of the most beautiful insects in flight. It is the season for the ancient winged insect to once again appear as it has for 250 million years. Charles Darwin identified 10 species on Galapagos Islands and today there are 5,000 identified dragonfly species. If you are lucky one may land on the back of your hand for a moment and then fly away at impossible angles.
A Dragonfly’s Life
Dragonflies lay thousands of eggs in the water. Those that survive take between a few days and several weeks to evolve into nymphs (larva). The nymphs can live underwater for up to five years. They will molt several times, shedding their exoskeletons to make room for new growth. Eventually they make their way to the surface where they wait for their systems to adjust to the air and then they magically transform into dragonflies. The once underwater nymphs are now beautiful insects who will live above water from forty-two to one hundred and eighty days.
The dragonfly eats almost any living thing smaller than itself and catches 90% of the prey it pursues. Its hunting skills are aided by sharp teeth, fast and erratic movement up to thirty-six miles per hour, and large eyes that let it see almost a full 360 degrees.
Dragonfly muscles are attached directly to their wings which enables them to fly faster than other insects. They can fly forward, backward, and upside-down. They can hover and pivot in place.
The Dragonfly of Myth and Symbol
Dragonfly of elegance and grace,
spontaneity, strength, and speed.
Humans see three primary colors,
Dragonflies see thirty.
The world seen through different eyes
250 million years on earth
Waters blue, flowers bloom, seize this day
In almost every part of the world, the dragonfly through myth and in symbol represents change, transformation, adaptability, and self-realization. The dragonfly is tied to the mental and emotional maturity that accompanies such qualities. Scurrying in flight across the waters, dragonfly presents an act of going beyond what is on the surface and looking into the deeper implications and aspects of life. The beauty in its wings unveiled by light reveals new colors and complexity heretofore unseen, bringing happiness and new perspectives to its journey.
And the Dragonfly Teaches…
The wonderful, unique, mythologically inspired insect spending only a small fraction of its life as a dragonfly, can speak to us in our latter years:
(1) Aging offers us mental and emotional maturity. This time of life brings to us change, transformation, adaptability, and self-realization.
(2) Aging calls us to go beyond the surface and look deeply into our lives.
(3) Aging encourages us to not be afraid, spread our wings, and place them in a new light, unmasking parts of ourselves that have remained unexposed.
(4) The dragonfly reminds us that old age is only a fraction of our lives, but it is a time when we have uninhibited vision of the mind, the ability to see beyond self-imposed limitations, and openness to learn from others and the world around us.
The dragonfly has been a symbol of happiness, new beginnings, and change for many centuries. The dragonfly represents hope, change, and love.
This summer if you rest near nature’s water, there is personal insight and reflection to be found gamboling by with colored wings that have defied description for 250 million years. May we all as we age find the eyes to see the wonderful gift of happiness and new beginnings that come with each day.
THE DRAGONFLY PRAYER
ANCIENT, FLITTING SPIRIT,
MASTER OF LIGHT AND PRECISION,
DRAGONFLY, I CALL ON YOU,
TEACH ME TO DANCE
IN THE DISAPPEARING MISTS OF DAWN
SHOW ME THE BEAUTY IN EACH DAY
BY MARRYING THOUGHT AND EMOTION,
HELP ME SEE THROUGH THE ILLUSIONS THAT BIND ME
AND UNDERSTAND THOSE THAT ENLIVEN MY SOUL.
HELP ME REMEMBER THAT LIGHT PENETRATES
AS WELL AS PAINTS,
THAT COLORS DEEPEN AS TIME FLOWS PAST,
THAT CONTROLLED FLIGHT IS, INDEED, POSSIBLE.
PLEASE, WEAVE THE LIGHT OF
TRANSFORMATION AND ADAPTATION
IN MY LIFE.
I CALL ON YOU.
Written by: Hartzell Cobbs
Hartzell Cobbs is the retired CEO of Mountain States Group (now Jannus, Inc.), a diverse nonprofit human service organization.
Now Available: THE MOON at the WINDOW
***All royalties from “The Moon at the Window” go to support the work of Smart Strategies for Successful Living.
About the Author: With a sprinkling of exuberance and vitality, Dr. Cobbs is an accomplished author of three books and numerous articles published in different venues throughout his life. Dr. Cobbs’ first book, Thanatos and the Sage: A spiritual approach to Aging (2008), offers a thought-provoking interpretation of the interplay between how to live life with meaningful intentions and the eventuality of coming to terms with death. His second book, Ravenwind (2019) delves into the raven’s role as it relates to Native American myths, legends, and folktales and global history. His reflections on the spirituality of living and dying depicted in his books are threaded throughout the short essays posted on the website for “Smart Strategies for Successful Living” and in his latest book, The Moon at the Window.
Smart Strategies for Successful Living provides an international format for writers to share research, thoughts, and experiences on aging well. One of our writers, Hartzell Cobbs, has compiled and edited articles from the past four years and put them in book form. “The book reveals the thoughts and emotions old age has dealt me” says Hartzell. “I have been surprised by how many aging people have similar experiences to my own.” The book has its genesis in Calcutta (now Kolkata), India, and concludes with reflections in the silence of the Arizona desert.
For additional information: CLICK HERE.
On behalf of Smart Strategies for Successful Living, a special thanks goes to Hartzell Cobbs for his brilliant works as a guest writer and for donating the book royalties from “The Moon at the Window” to us. We greatly treasure his talents and generous support of our website.