Posted by: facetothewind | November 24, 2011

Cleared for landing

I lay at the spa this afternoon while my mind had reached fever pitch assessing all that’s wrong with me, my friends, the economy, the world. It’s Thanksgiving and I wasn’t feeling anything to be thankful for. How spoiled is that? I’m lying in the sunshine by the hot tub, in basically good health, knowing I will eat well tonight and yet all I can do is curse myself and everyone for my unhappiness. I ran through all the people in my mind who disappoint me. Yup. Every last damn person I know is a disappointment to me, not the least of all, myself.

What has happened to my life? I was such a bright and wondrous child, so full of enthusiasm and passion. So much promise. I wanted to be President one day. I was sure I was going to be in love. If you asked me when I was a child if I could imagine that at 47 I’d be a lonely sack of bones wasting away in the Arizona sun with nary a loved one to spend Thanksgiving with, I’d have thought you crazy. And yet here I am, completely bitter, unlovable and unemployed. All I need is a house facing foreclosure to complete the picture. Wait, I have that too.

How the fuck did this happen?

This is the internal train wreck the paramedics of my mind have to face each day. Some days there is less carnage, some days more. A little work, a sense of purpose, some promise of gainful employment and the chatter quiets. But all it takes is one damn social holiday like Thanksgiving to remind me how much pain I’m in to have lost so much promise and hope.

And then something wonderful happened!

I’m lying there stewing in my crap and a vision of my childhood whizzes past my head. It was a dragonfly. Dragonflies enchanted me no end as a young boy growing up in Florida. I used to marvel at their structure of their delicate glassy wings that looked like Frank Lloyd Wright’s stained glass windows. I watched their long bodies expand as they breathed. I was spellbound by the giant heads with their curious compound eyes. Whenever I found a dead one on someone’s car grill, I would scoop it off and gaze into its eyes. There was something magical and mysterious about those eyes. I would get lost in the moire patterns in blue and green. I would rotate it’s head and think about what it would be like to be able to see in front and behind at the same time.

I imagined dragonflies were airlines. The blue ones Eastern Airlines. The red and orange ones National Airlines. I imagined the flight attendants serving lunch in white gloves as the dragonflies soared over my head. I watched as they lowered their “landing gear” to perch on reeds by the canal behind the house. On rare occasions, a dragonfly would perch on my shoulder or my hat or the handlebar of my bicycle. I would freeze and watch them with the intensity of a cat watching a mouse. I would silently convey my love to the little creatures that delighted me with their perch. I made promises to them that I would always be their friend. I would always notice them.

Today I lay flat on the pool deck being as still as possible. I watched the dragonfly circle around my head and over my body checking me out. I really wanted it to come in for a landing and perch on me. So I focused all my thoughts on it. “Come in for a landing, little guy, come land on me!” I hoped. And he swooped over the warm water, circled back and came right for the big toe on my left foot. I felt its little landing gear grab hold of my skin and I silently cheered inside. I had made contact with something wondrous and beautiful.

And then I felt the tears begin to roll down my cheeks as I thought about how much has changed in the 35 or so years since the last time I was visited by a dragonfly. Really? An insect landing on my left toe is not what I would have thought I’d be crying about today. This visitation reminded me of how much wonder I still have for things, people, and creatures. I’ve lost none of the wonder, fascination and curiosity of boyhood.

What I have lost is my joy.

It got tangled up in the complications of being a man. Expectations, obligations, responsibilities, building the superstructures of one’s life somehow killed my joy. I had broken my promise to all dragonflies to always notice them.

And this little guy on my toe who kept taking off and coming back and then landing on my right toe reminded me that that sense of wonder and joy is always possible no matter how hard my life may seem, no matter how lonely I feel. I only have to take the time to be still and look around me. All these simple joys of living that I trample on, walk right past…they’re there all the time begging me to notice them.

I apologized to the little guy for breaking my boyhood promise. I told him that I hadn’t intended to stop noticing his beauty but I just got distracted. I told him that I would never do that again. You hear me, little guy?

I’m noticing!

Now about that Thanksgiving dinner…

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Responses

  1. Hey, David,
    Your post made me feel sad, and then happy, and lots of love for you. It’s lovely, and typical of you to be honest and yet find a way back to joy in even a bleak and dark desert afternoon.
    Love to you,G

  2. Beautiful essay. It is, indeed, the little wondrous things of everyday life for which we should be grateful.

  3. Lovely, David. You remind me once again that happiness is a choice – more about what we make of the circumstances that come our way than the circumstances themselves.


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