A few weeks ago I returned home from the studio and was walking up the driveway to the entrance to our flat. On the asphalt, near the entry way to the stairs, I noticed an insect buzzing. I looked close and a dragonfly was frivolously trying to fly. I put my down turned hand near it and it climbed onto my knuckles and it’s wings stopped. I noticed that it’s tail was severed, about half way. It had no balance.
I got to thinking how awful it must be to have perfectly functioning wings and not being able to fly. I held the disabled bug close to my face and it tried to fly again, but just couldn’t and it fell. The upturned palm of my other hand caught it in it’s descent and I turned it over gingerly with my loose index finger to right it again.
Meanwhile, I also got to thinking about my life as usual. Numbers and fish floated around my being. Taxes loomed. The economy bit. I was buying a home. I might be a father.
That poor damn dragonfly. I set it on the paver atop the retaining wall in front of the building and just looked at it. I tried to see my reflection in it’s oil stained eyes. I didn’t see my reflection, rather I saw my own disabled soul. It’s such with dragonflies of broken tails. Better not to bother.
During this past spring of early summer, my wife, Dawn and our mongrel dog were taking a walk to our area Lake. On the walk, Maddux alerted us to a duckling jetting atween parked car tires on the boulevard. We followed it around and it was “Quacking” like mad. It had lost it’s mother and family.
I had the intention to gather up the little bird. I would contact the area rescue wildlife management peoples and the little duck would be cared for. Boy, was I wrong.
Instead, the little beast of about four inches tall evaded my every capture technique. It went so far as to run so fast and without abandon that it fell into a sewer grate four feet deep. Imagine a little duck slipping through the grates of a sewer and landing with malleable bones, only to realize it’s existence is worse than previous.
I ran to the sewer grate and peered in. The little duck was on a ledge about three and a half feet down and it was frantically trying to get out. Jumping against the aged concrete tomb. The grate slots were about a half and an inch wide and not able to fit a hand through. The little duck was frantic and I told Dawn to take the dog across the street and to find some twigs.
For some reason, I thought about my dead father just then. I remembered his patience with me and all the mistakes I never thought would happen. I thought about what he would say and what I felt:
”Even if you get this duckling out of the sewer, it is still going to be looking for an existence that is gone. It will die.”
My father also told me,
“There is not try. Do or don’t.”
I tried. I took those twigs and dropped them into the sewer to make a bridge for that little duckling. It kept jumping up and falling down. It became exhausted. I was adding to the stress dropping little twigs onto it. My help was in vain.
I gave up.
Just after I gave up, Dawn pointed to the sewer grate and yelled,
”Look! The duckling!”
And sure enough I saw that little bird dart atween some parked car tires quacking madly.
Instead of getting real sad, I went about existence. Most people manage this way, but I found that I couldn’t manage. These signs of life mandated a different existence. Being an artist doesn’t mean you don’t have responsibilities. I have a few.
So, I did pay attention. I even tried to give myself away into the dragonfly and duckling. I tried with them, but can’t fail.