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Yesterday morning I woke up in a tent at a now very familiar campsite in Galway, NY. Our unreasonably cold and long North East winter had given away to not simply moderate spring temps, but unseasonably hot summer weather in the blink of an eye. Trust me, I’m not complaining. As my eyes came into focus from an incredibly restful sleep, the kind of rest that only fresh air and sleeping on the ground brings me, I began to notice all of these large beetle type bugs crawling around the roof of our tent. As one who is more intrigued by creepy crawlies rather than frightened, I was content to simply sit and watch. And as I watched, the most amazing thing happened.
Dragonflies emerged from them.
It wasn’t instantaneous, of course. It was a slow and deliberate struggle, as what I now recognized as a dragonfly nymph found a seemingly safe place, clung on, and cracked its exoskeleton open to allow its new physical self to slowly push its way out. Then the dragonfly sat motionless for hours (I had come and gone numerous times from the tent at this point) before it slowly opened its wings to allow them to dry out. Many more patient hours would pass before the motionless dragonfly would take flight for the very first time.
There is obvious poetic prose in this transformation. How the beautiful dragonfly, a creature so many celebrate in art and life for its beauty, came from a non descript, for all intents an purposes, ugly bug. A bug that these same people wouldn’t hesitate to squash or shoo away, not knowing what was hiding underneath that shell. But it wasn’t the classic ugly duckling scenario that struck me as profound, instead it was the struggle that dragonfly went through to emerge from its former self. Because it didn’t simply emerge; that dragonfly contorted, pushed, and fought its way out after spending years (5 or 6 of them) in its former bug shell, living at the bottom of a mucky pond.
I know what you are thinking here, everyone has written about the transformation of the caterpillar to the butterfly, the ugly duckling to the beautiful swan, the creepy little dragonfly nymph to a stunning dragonfly. So what’s the point here Heather? The point is this:
Mother nature will be the first to tell you… change is fucking hard.
It’s scary. It’s a struggle. It can hurt, and it’s usually pretty ugly. And often change takes a lot of painstaking ground work, many years of wading through literal and figurative muck before the change can occur. But the end result, with a little patience and a lot of fight, can be pretty magnificent.
Don’t be afraid.