The seasons are transitioning and flocks of migrating songbirds are coming through Sacramento. Gorgeous cedar waxwings, with a stripe of yellow at their tail, and lovely mountain bluebirds gobble up winter berries.
These days, I’ve been spending a lot of time birdwatching, and working in my day job (as a freelance editor) with a client in the ecology field. He’s teaching me about cycles in water, about transitioning water from unhealthy to healthy, a process of cycling excess nutrients into a beneficial, balanced, ecosystem. It’s amazing science.
One of the signs that water is healthy is the prevalence of dragonflies. It might be cliche, but I have always loved them: a squirming larva born in water who emerges to metamorphosize. Folklore has it that when a person needs to find a new perspective they should call on the dragonfly spirit.
Folklore has it that when a person needs to find a new perspective they should call on the dragonfly spirit.
Transitions happen in other life too, of course; not just water. Everything moves from one form to another.
Nations change. As a country transitions from one built on invasion and enslavement to one that recognizes and embraces the value of life, there will be cycles; fits and starts, leaps forward and steps back, acknowledgements and denials, pain and healing.
Life itself is often called a cycle, and we all know that cycling is movement. As a beloved person transitions from life to death, Hospice guidelines say we are powerless except to let our loved one know we will be alright; to say whatever words of love and support we need to say; to give them permission to go.
My high-school friend Dave recently said goodbye to his wife, our friend, Michelle. He was her sole care provider as she deteriorated swiftly into the frozen exterior of ALS. She felt every itch, every pinch, every twinge, yet could not move. Finally, three years post-diagnosis, at age 51, her lungs were unable to inhale the oxygen she needed and she transitioned out of this life.
Transitions. Cycles. Movement. One of the reasons that this past year has been so challenging for so many people is that the world’s attention was focused on the lack of movement. Of course I mean the time spent in our residences away from friends and activities and the lack of travel. I also mean the lack of movement towards equal rights in our justice system that became evident to a larger spectrum of people than those who suffer it. It’s been a stressful time that sometimes descended into repulsive displays of self-absorption and selfishness and it’s time for a change.
I’ve been experiencing transitions of my own, of late. What does it mean to cycle into a new phase of womanhood, post-menopause? Beyond the physical changes, the wattle, the wild hairs, the waistline (what waistline?), might it mean that for the rest of my life, which actually might be nearly as long again as my memory of the past, that I am arriving somehow at who I have always been meant to be?
What does it mean to move into a different kind of mothering, empty nesting? When a laboring pregnant woman enters transition, her cervix rapidly expands, the baby is coming. The mother who accepts this, who surrenders, will suffer the least. This seems also true when the young adult enters a life with “Mama” at the periphery. I am still Mama, but I may be cycling into a healthier balanced ecosystem.
What does it mean to have a moving and changing sense of my role as daughter, wife, collaborator, friend? To move beyond self-imposed limitations? I wonder. So I’ve called on this dragonfly spirit.
How close the words “transition” and “transformation” are!
The last ten years have been eventful. As I stepped out of my role at Under the Gum Tree this past month, I felt grateful for the nutrition I received from the literally hundreds of writers, editors, and creative people I have had the opportunity to work with.
Like water, the dragonfly spirit would have me believe, I have in me the natural power to be as beautiful and clear as I want to be.
As I stepped out of my role at Under the Gum Tree this past month, I felt grateful for the nutrition I received from the literally hundreds of writers, editors, and creative people I have had the opportunity to work with.
I wish you fresh perspective, and great clarity of purpose.
Keep writing, revising, and telling your stories.