Tag Archive for philosophy

Serendipity of the Dragonfly

twelve spotted skimmer

I only noticed the dragonfly on the screen this morning because the internet connection was broken. My morning modus operandi is to make a pot of coffee (strong enough to walk to the cup by itself), then wander into the office to check my two e-mail accounts, my two Facebook accounts, and my site statistics for the blog. Then I squander an hour or so rambling around the internet and posting ridiculous pictures and quotes on Facebook. I rarely see the beauty that Mother Nature provides until after 9:00 a.m.

This morning, however, the Internet gods had abandoned me. When I plopped down at my desk, I opened my browser to find that I couldn’t get an internet connection on my computer. Frantic, I raced for the iPhone for a 3G connection, but got zip, nada, bupkiss . I got the same story with my iPad. It was a conspiracy! Both Charter Cable and ATT wanted to drive me out of my mind. I thought it was the Apocalypse, but that doesn’t happen until December 21st (so they say). “What has happened to my world?” I wailed, as the five felines at my feet joined in sympathetic caterwauling.

Despondent, I sat on the porch with my coffee pondering my predicament. “Without the Internet,” I wondered, “what is the meaning of life?” Clearly, I need some intervention, because I’m addicted to the Internet!

I struggled to remember what I did with myself before the WWW took over my world. Yes, I’m ancient enough to remember life before the internet (and there was life), but I’m old and my memory is shot. Feeling bereft, I opened my eyes and saw the battle-scarred beauty clinging to the window screen and was instantly enchanted. I grabbed my camera to see if he (I think it is a “he”) would “pose” for me. You can click the picture to see a close-up, if you so desire.

As you can see, the Internet eventually came back, and I was able to discover that my visitor is a “Twelve-spotted Skimmer.” Obviously, his life has been a hard one recently, for you can see that his wing is torn. Even so, he is quite lovely.

“Don’t dragonflies have some kind of symbolism?” I thought. This led me to look up the folklore of the dragonfly, where I found this passage:

The dragonfly, in almost every part of the world symbolizes change and change in the perspective of self realization; and the kind of change that has its source in mental and emotional maturity and the understanding of the deeper meaning of life.

As we said in the Sixties, “Heavy, man.”

Was it serendipity or synchronicity that I should find a dragonfly on the morning that I am pondering my internet addiciton? I have no clue. However, I am interpreting my meeting the dragonfly this morning to mean that perhaps the Universe is telling me to turn off the computer and discover the real “WWW” — the Whole Wide World! It’s a day to discover what to do without the internet!

What would you do?

The Buzz On The Saw

Circular_Saw_Blade

I would love to tell y’all that I took Industrial Arts when I was seventeen in order to challenge the misconceived gender roles in a patriarchal society. That, however, would be a bald-faced lie, and it sounds much smarter than anything I would have done. There was only one good reason that this girl took a class that was typically considered “masculine” — boys, of course! I envisioned that I would be surrounded by them and could flirt with them all.

I know. It wasn’t very progressive of me, but give me a break. I was seventeen and my hormones were raging. Besides, my scheme backfired. As so often happens, I didn’t think it through. The only time that Industrial Arts fit into my class schedule was during the last period of the day, during which time the older boys I hoped would be in my class were taking Athletics. Everyone in the class was at least two grades behind me, a head shorter than me, and most of them were what would today be called “Geeks.”

The age difference wouldn’t bother me so much today (ask Mr. Tucker — I’m a “cougar”), and I’d be in awe of the Geeks, because they probably turned into people like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. At seventeen, trust me, this mattered; a girl who was a Junior in High School did not chase after shorter, Freshman boys! It was our loss.

I was further deflated that I didn’t even get to use heavy equipment. The instructor would not let me touch the circular saws! He told me that girls didn’t use saws, and said something to the effect of, “besides, your Daddy would shoot me if I let you cut off your ring finger.” My “ring finger?” The testosterone-filled chauvinist! I only wish I knew then what I know now!

I would have loved to tell that teacher, “Mister, that circular saw you think is just for men was invented by a woman!” Yes, it was.

That woman was Sister Tabitha Babbitt, a quiet Shaker woman from Harvard, Massachusetts. In about 1810, she sat at her spinning wheel watching two men struggle to cut logs into lumber with a pit saw. She realized that half of their labor, as they pulled the saw back and forth, was wasted, because the saw only cut on the forward stroke. Having the keen imagination of an inventor, Sister Tabitha looked down at her spinning wheel and saw a better way. She made a tin wheel with “teeth” … notches around the edge … and attached it to her spinning wheel. Wood pushed against those teeth when it was spinning cut much more quickly.

Hers wasn’t the first “cutting machine” for wood, but it was the first in America. She was also credited with inventing a process to manufacture false teeth, and helping Ely Whitney develop cut nails. However, being from a religious sect that valued modesty, Sister Tabitha never patented her inventions. It’s amazing that during her lifetime she was able to do so much that was considered “men’s work” in those days, but the Shakers embraced equality of the sexes. They also embraced celibacy … which is why you probably don’t know anyone who is a Shaker.

spinning wheel

Unlike Tabitha Babbitt, I would never have dreamed of looking at my spinning wheel in 1813 and deciding to invent a circular saw. Do y’all see a saw when you look at a spinning wheel? Neither do my cats, but they see a toy. It takes imagination to look at one thing and envision another.

The history books I read in school (when I bothered to read them) never mentioned Sister Tabitha Babbitt, though they mentioned many other inventors — who were, of course, men. It’s why they call it his-story. Her inventions might not have been life changing for most of us, but if I had been told about the women in history who achieved lofty goals, I think it would have changed my life. It would have been an epiphany for me and I might have decided to become an engineer … no wait, I don’t “do math.” But, I did learn to use a chainsaw. Do you need any firewood cut?

Parents, be sure to tell your children (both boys and girls) that, like Sister Tabitha Babbitt, they can do anything if they use their imaginations. Teach them to think, to try new things, and to dream of lofty goals. And, all you manly men in your workshops, come down to earth and ignore your testosterone for a moment to remember that you owe a debt to the inventiveness of this quiet Shaker woman.

Where’s Waldo?

anole hiding in aloe vera

I call him “Waldo.” He blends in pretty well, don’t you think? Like a chameleon, this little guy can change colors. In fact, when we were kids we thought these lizards were chameleons, but they aren’t. This green anole has been enchanting me all summer as he hides in different plants on the porch. Mostly, he hides in the aloe vera plants, because I guess he has the change to bright green and dull brown (depending if he is on the healthy part of the plant or the part that’s dying) down pat.

He didn’t fall for it when I put the purple plaid tablecloth down on the deck, darn it. I didn’t tell you that I have a wicked sense of humor, did I? Bless his heart, that would have driven him plumb crazy. I should be ashamed of myself.

Waldo seems to be as curious about me as I am about him, because he has been known to sneak up on me to watch me. He gets bored quickly, because I am not very interesting. Right now, like my little anole buddy, I am just hiding in plain sight while pondering my next moves (or which insect I plan to pounce). I’m remembering an Asian proverb:

“A chameleon does not leave one tree until he is sure of another.”

I suppose that’s true of anoles, as well— and perhaps it applies to a certain starving artist who doesn’t know which “tree” to choose. After two and a half decades of making my living as a storyteller, I’m loathe to let it go, but the poor economy is forcing me to change profession or at least to add another so that I can make ends meet. Along ’bout now, I feel as if someone put a purple plaid tablecloth down in front of me. I reckon that the Universe has a wicked sense of humor, too.

So, I’ll think on it some more, and then I’ll take a leap of faith.