Monday, September 23, 2013

Coincidence, Belief and the Dragonfly

Last year I bought a new bike and rode it every day on my vacation at a local park with a mile long bicycle path. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed riding. I used to ride around Greenlake in Seattle and along the Burke-Gilman Trail around Lake Washington. So coming from being used to a nice long bike path to roads in Kitsap County where I live, they are just not so great in comparison. 

Still, I've been looking for a closer place to ride. Finally, found one that works for me, for now, until I get to be a stronger rider to head out for the great unknown (if ever). 

Parking in the Junior High lot
I started to ride for the first time this year mid-summer. It's nice there because I can park at the local Junior High, and the bike path is right there, on that road.

Junior High school parking lot and road
It's a nice wide road too, with a marked bicycle path. Traffic isn't very heavy and I don't feel too paranoid riding with cars whizzing by. Some of the roads around here are dangerous and people have died being hit by a car. I know one guy who is now a paraplegic from a car / bike accident.

At the beginning of the path loop
This brings us to a day when I was riding the path and found a dead Dragonfly on the roadside. It was odd. Perfect looking. Almost manufactured. It was just sitting there on the roadside. I had to stop my bike and get off to look at it. It was blue and colorful. No damage whatsoever. It was remarkable.

Which, is why I'm remarking on it here. I wanted to take it home but there was no place safe to put it. If I put it in my bike somewhere as I have bags on the bike to carry my phone, keys, etc., so they aren't all in my pockets rubbing uncomfortably. But I was sure it would get damaged if i put it on the bike. So I figured, well I'm here to ride after all, so I got on my bike and continued on.

fence line with posts and reflectors
But I kept thinking about it and on the way back on my second loop I saw it again. It was just sitting there on the road. But I kept on going. On the final loop back I saw it again. This time I'd had plenty of time to think about it and finally had decided I would have to do... something.

reflector on post
I thought I would set it aside for now, then when I was done riding I could pack up the car, drive up, park on the roadside, retrieve it and put it safely in the car. Once back at home I could then figure out how to display it. This may sound somewhat morbid to some but I was fascinated by what a piece of art it was and after all, I hadn't killed it, had I? It was almost like a gift from nature and needed to be preserved, at very least so that others could see it.

Carefully, I picked it up and set it on the fourth reflector post from the beginning of the road fence line. There was a reflector on the eighth post, the fourth reflector post as they were set every other post. The reflector was a right angle and almost seemed to me like a perfect place to put the Dragonfly. It was almost like a display and also partial protection from the wind. So I set it there. I realized the wind might catch it, but there was nowhere else to put it. And it would be easy to find after I got in the car. It just sat there. Still. Why I didn't take a photo I don't know. Now I realize that I should have.

Blue Eyed Darner Dragonfly
The problem with all this was that when I got in the car, I was also concerned about a burn on my leg from riding my Harley with shorts on. Something I won't be doing again any time soon. It was taking forever to heal and the Neosporin I had been using almost seemed like it was making it worse. It worked at first but then felt like it was simply irritating it.

Because of that burn, I decided after I was done riding for the day, that I would turn right instead of left at the stop light at the "T" intersection up the road on the way home. And of course before I even made that decision, I had forgotten all about the Dragonfly.

It wasn't until much later in the day that evening that I even thought about it again. I could have gotten up right then to go see if it was still there. But I figured it might not be by then and it would just be a wasted six mile drive, twelve round trip. Which by the way was better than the nine mile drive I had been doing last year to Battlepoint Park on Bainbridge Island. A difference of six miles round trip, last year to this.

I stagger my work outs every other day. One day anaerobic, next day aerobic. So the next day I lifted weights for exercise. The next day was a Saturday. It was supposed to rain but then the weather changed and it was nice requiring only a sweatshirt to ride comfortably. So I went back. As I drove by I checked  and didn't see the insect, much as I had expected not to as it had been windy the day before.

I parked, got geared up and headed down the path. On the return trip I stopped at the fourth reflector post. I looked around. Nothing. There is a steep sandy slope for about eight feet down to heavy foliage. I looked for a while, very carefully. I tried to go down the slope half way and almost quickly ended up at the bottom all the way. But in the end I had to conclude, either someone took it, which I would have been fine if they had only made good use of it and for the right reasons, or the wind had simply blown it away. Taking that into consideration, I scanned the foliage again very carefully. Still nothing.

So I rode off. As I made the loop a second time, I scanned the road and roadside. Nothing. No Dragonfly laying around anywhere. In fact, no insects at all, really. Finally I turned at the end of the road near my car and began my last and final loop. Now up to this point there had been nothing out of the usual, nothing odd, nothing unexpected.

But then it happened. As I was starting the final loop, the same kind of Dragonfly flew right by me, almost as if to say, "Hello". It came up on my right, flew along with me a moment, sped up in front of me and crossed over to my left and continued on quickly disappearing. I let it go as to watch it too intently could end me up on the pavement in a rather unpleasant and painful event.

What was so weird about this was that I had an overwhelming feeling that somehow it was the same Dragonfly. Had it come to let me know that it was all alright after all? Was it telling me to be at peace, that I hadn't made a mistake in having forgotten about it, or in not coming back to look for it as soon as I did remember? Or to let me know that it had been fine and perhaps had only been hibernating for some reason mysterious, though perhaps quite normal?

In the end, I really don't know. Really, can't know, right? But I'm pretty sure it was just a coincidence.

Now if I had been of a different mindset, a different orientation, I might have attributed it to God,  God, or many Gods, a High Power, some kind of (hopefully) benign greater force in the universe.

It was only a quick, short trip to go one of two vastly different directions. Had I taken the road less taken? Or had I take the road most taken? Regardless, I had taken the road I always have tried to take. That on seeing both, acknowledging both, enjoying the possibilities in both, and more. And then continue on. The Dragonfly experience was now part of who I was. Again.

It reminded me of a time, decades ago. My family was camping up near Mt Rainier. I was on a road at the National Parks campground with my siblings and we were playing. We discovered a Dragonfly and followed it around, fascinated. We were reminded of when we were younger and living in Philadelphia. We were behind our apartment complex on Sharpnack Street, my sister and I. We were doing what a lot of kids do that time of year. Capturing fireflies in glass jars.

But now we were in Washington state. And the Dragonfly was near Mt Rainier. It had landed on a leaf. I watched as it moved and something came out of it. I was amazed that it was purple. Had it taken a purple dump there on the leaf? I told my sister, though she didn't seem so interested. But what takes a purple shite on a leaf like that? I found postings worth reading as they are funny. Someone said their shite is silver, another said it's sperm, yet another might be right in it being eggs. Well, whatever.

After all this, I started to wonder what a dargonfly meant, historically. What did it symbolize? Many insects have meanings attributed to them over the ages by people of various cultures and races. So I looked it up. Dragonflies have been thought to symbolize such things as:
  • Maturity and a Depth of character
  • Power and Poise
  • Defeat of Self Created Illusions
  • Focus on living ‘IN’ the moment
  • The opening of one’s eyes

Ever since childhood I had felt some kind of wonder at these creatures and apparently I'm not the only one in the world or through history who felt that. I believed as a child that they had some kind of meaning beyond their mere existence. These Dragonflies were after all in my mind, pretty awesome.

I've been somewhat fascinated by them ever since. And to have been made a gift of a Dragonfly as I had with it just sitting there on the side of a road, seemed somehow amazing, too. Did it mean something? I knew that in reality it was yet another a random event in a serious of random events extending over the length of my life. But still it somehow made me feel like my choice of bicycling, of choosing this path, of doing it on that day...well, that everything was right. That it all fit, the universe was somehow aligned. Yes, that is all pretty ridiculous, isn't it?

My point being here that it is natural to feel or believe in such things. It's the easy belief to have and it's that kind of thing that has led us to a variety of mistakes along our history as Human Beings. There is value in seeing, understanding these things, but also in not believing in them intrinsically. I believe there is also value in ascribing symbolism as it can be a kind of shorthand in communications between people, and understanding one culture's symbolism can be a powerful thing when another culture is trying hard to understand and communicate with them.

All of this is in part why the absurdest pseudo-religion, "Church of the Pure Purple", or for those who find its association with religion as distracting, then its umbrella organization, "Purpleism" which uses the Dragonfly as part of it's symbol.

It's all about reality you see. Actual reality, not perceived reality, not merely believed reality. Believing in things that make sense. Avoiding the senseless things in life. Avoiding those things that are just stupid. Cutting through nonsense and helping people through the banal and the nonsensical  and therefore helping out our entire Human race, to advance and live more in peace and harmony.

Far too often we find ourselves following the status quo, going through the motions when really, if we just stood back and thought about what we were believing in or what we were doing, we'd realize that we were being pretty stupid. Still, that's partly how the world is set up. It's not all our fault after all. But we do need to recognize those times and do what we can do fix it. Sometimes that means doing what is generally considered to be wrong, getting punished for it, all the while knowing that what you are doing is truly the right thing to do and maybe, hopefully, you are saving an innocent in the process. Possibly someone caught being chewed up in the machinery of society, religion, or humanity for that matter.

I will end with this there. I've given you the information, some of my experience and places to seek more interesting information.

Now, what is it you need to do?

Hopefully, something....

No comments:

Post a Comment