Aug 14, 2012

Rise and Shine...O Sleepy Soul!

The day had started as usual for this grubby-looking nymph, pursuing its prey in the water, when latent so far, but now active, a genetically timed impulse for the metamorphosis hit it.  The moment it had been moving towards unknowingly for so long was here. 

Long? Well, the length of time is always a perception, measured by us human beings in our own currency.  From that perspective, it was almost four years ago when this nymph had hatched out of one of so many eggs that its mother had dropped in the water. Since then this mass of water was its universe. It was little aware of the world beyond. However, soon that was to be the past, as its DNA, evolved through millions of years, was propelling it towards the purpose it was hatched for.

If it had a fear about the change in the surroundings, I am unaware.  All I am aware is that it was living in the moment, accepting the impending change as a given, knowing well that this metamorphosis from a nymph to a well-honed flying insect, is not only taking it away from the safe harbours into unknown, but is also leading it to the final few months of its life.

It looked for a suitable reed, found one and climbed through the stem out of the water. Emerging out of the reed, and the water, it started breathing as it came in contact with the air. Shedding its skin of the nymph stage, it stepped out in the world. Its immediate act was to perch atop the reed, swaying with the breeze, drying its wings in the warmth of the Sun, reveling in the open vast new ambience, before it would take off in hunt for its prey & its mate.

While taking a stroll, a sudden splash of an array of iridescent colours caught my attention. Getting closer to the reed cautiously I observed this creature with elongated body & gossamer wings and remembered what Louise Bogan, an Amercian Poet had written:  

Dragonfly With Those lenses

You are made of almost nothing
But of enough
To be great eyes
And diaphanous double vans;
To be ceaseless movement,
Link between water and air,
Earth repels you.
Light touches you only to shift into iridescence
Upon your body and wings.

Yes, the nature is abundant with variety when it comes to creatures great and small, each one having their distinctive presence. Yet, like a Jamini Roy painting, it’s the eyes of the Dragon Flies, and their diaphanous wings reflecting colours in the Sun, that draws ones attention to them.


They are one of the oldest, fiercest and skillful predators on the planet. In fact, there hardly exist a few creatures on the earth now that predate dinosaurs. Their agility during flight, especially their ability to move in all six directions, while flying at a speed of about 45 miles an hour, yet using only two of their wings at much lesser speed then a normal fly would do, is nothing less than a magic. Their illustrations in the manuals of Leonardo Da Vinci while he conceptualized a Helicopter as early as 15th century, is well-known.  A lesser known & now being well-researched fact emerging about them is, like birds, their migrations across the oceans & continents. 

Having traveled alongwith the evolution of earth & human beings, it is no wonder that different cultures & civilisations have perceived them differently. Japanese, with their country also known in history as Akitsushima (the Islands of Dragonfly) have revered them, made them a part of their life, with the Samurai using them as a symbol of power, agility and Victory.  Chinese believe that they are a good luck charm who bring with them prosperity & harmony.  Amongst Native Americans, they are a sign of happiness, speed and purity. Burmese utilised them for killing the Yellow-fever spreading mosquitoes.


Ferocious predators they may be when it comes to insects, but they seem to do so smilingly. Sporting a toothy grin always, (which also gave the entire group their biological name Odonata - toothed ones), make them look as if they have just been caught in a mischief. Yes, I like them, and not without a reason. It could be because of this image of a red dragon-fly which got me my first-ever prize in a photo-contest.

Red Dragonfly Geo

It could also be that I truly find fascinating their visual system that dragonflies have been bestowed with. The nature's remarkable & awe inspiring engineering is a complex system comprising of about 30000 lens, each of the lens capturing the sensory perception around it, which gets analysed by its brain to create a 360 degree vision. 


But..more than any other reason, what makes a dragon fly special for me is that it makes me realize the incredible creative forces which are manifest behind the existence itself - be it a dragon fly or us human beings.

Putting the life of us human beings on a parallel plane, a dragon fly makes me understand: the hidden latent potential in our own soul that awaits the moment when we would rise out of the mundane life; striving to fulfill the purpose for which each one of us exists in this universe. Soaring on the wings of our own intelligence and efforts, we would dazzle the world with a display of those amazing arrays of colours that only we can. And it is not difficult. All that we need is the willingness to leave the safe harbours when that moment comes, shed the shackles that keep us in the stage of a grubby looking nymph, reflecting at life with a compounded all encompassing vision, and explore the depth & vastness of our selves, our Universe.

Then even if life is brief, like a dragonfly’s, it will be meaningful. This is what Ruth O'Neill means when she wrote Lesson from A Dragonfly:

For the dragonfly knows it lives a brief life this way
So I learn from this creature to live wisely each day

(For those interested in reading the full poem of Ruth O'Neill & a few more pictures, please visit the link given below: )


sunil deepak said...

Wonderful images!

Navin Maheshwari said...

Great photos. Display the beauty of nature with great intricacy.