Hovering dragonfly.

Hovering dragonfly. Photo by Callen Harty.

When life’s burdens befall me I always turn to nature. It is there that I find inner peace in the peaceful surroundings of woods, ponds, marshes, and more. It is there that I learn lessons about patience, the true meaning of beauty, and most importantly, the cycles of life.

Nature speaks to me. It finds ways to get through my ego and to the core of my being and energy. I hear whispers in the wind. I see symbolism in the movement of trees and the antics of animals. It is where I take myself to find myself.

So today I went to one of my favorite places and sat with myself, pondering the life cycles of humans as my mother in my home town eats less and less each day and moves closer to that place where her energy will leave her and transform into something new and beautiful. I may not know where her energy will land, but I know that wherever it is there will be more light, more beauty, more of whatever is good than there was before. Nature has been giving me signs.

Yesterday, after hearing that her feet are now mottling, which is itself usually a sign that death is near, I got out of my car at a sacred place and heard mourning doves. Later in the day I saw a mourning cloak, a type of butterfly, for the first time this year. It is one of my favorites, and I also know that butterflies symbolize rebirth. At the end of the day I looked up to the top of a hill and saw a deer looking back at me. We stood there together for some time, just looking at each other, and somehow connected.

Today I went to a pond and sat down next to it just to be. As I was sitting there a dragonfly started to hover around me. They represent change and I knew that it was there to somehow reassure me that the coming change is an okay thing. My mother has lived a long and good life, despite her share of hardships, but it is time that she moves on, that she changes from this earthly form into whatever form her energy takes next. I have never had this happen before, but that dragonfly hovered around me for what seemed like forever. It hovered over my head then flew around and hovered right in front of my face, then darted behind, back over my head, in front of me again several times until I broke down in tears.

I couldn’t help but wonder why I was crying because I knew that the message of the dragonfly was about change. It wasn’t about endings, but about new beginnings, just as the butterfly yesterday was not about mourning but celebrating rebirth. Then I realized that the tears were not for my mother. She will be at peace. They were for me and my impending loss, for my brothers and sister, nieces and nephews, and those of us who have loved her in her earthly form. I wiped my eyes, thanked the dragonfly, then moved on to a spot where I found three fluffy yellow goslings to watch and enjoy.

This evening the dragonfly hovers in my mind, and I am more at peace than I was at the start of the day.

About Callen Harty

Originally from Shullsburg, Wisconsin Callen Harty is the author of four books and numerous published essays, poems, and articles. His most recent book is The Stronger Pull, a memoir about coming out in a small town in Wisconsin. His first book was My Queer Life, a compilation of over 30 years worth of writing on living life as a queer man. It includes essays, poems, speeches, monologues, and more. Empty Playground: A Survivor's Story, is a memoir about surviving childhood sex abuse. His play, Invisible Boy, is a narrative with poetic elements and is also an autobiographical look as surviving child sex abuse. All are available on Amazon.com (and three of them on Kindle) or can be ordered through local bookstores, He has written almost two dozen plays and 50 monologues that have been produced. Most of them have been produced at Broom Street Theater in Madison, Wisconsin where he started as an actor, writer, and director in 1983. He served as the Artistic Director of the theater from 2005-2010. Monologues he wrote for the Wisconsin Veterans’ Museum won him awards from the Wisconsin Historical Society and the American Association of State and Local History. He has also had essays, poems, and articles published in newspapers and magazines around the country and has taken the top prize in several photo contests. His writing has appeared in Out!, James White Review, Scott Stamp Monthly, Wisconsin State Journal, and elsewhere. He has had several essays published online for Forward Seeking, Life After Hate, and The Progressive. Callen has also been a community activist for many years. He was the co-founder of Young People Caring, UW-Madison’s 10% Society, and Proud Theater. He served as the first President of Young People Caring and as the Artistic Director for Proud Theater for its first five years. He is still an adult mentor for the group. In 2003 he won OutReach’s Man of the Year award for his queer community activism. OutReach is Madison, Wisconsin’s lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender community center. He also won a Community Shares of Wisconsin Backyard Hero award for his sex abuse survivor activism work. He has been invited to speak before many community groups, at a roundtable on queer community theater in New York City, and has emceed several events. In 2016, Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault named him their annual Courage Award winner for his activism, writing, and speaking on sexual assault.
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4 Responses to Dragonfly

  1. Jay Indik says:

    much sweetness strength and renewal to you and yours

  2. How extraordinarily beautiful, Callen. Thank you so much for your marvelous openness and willingness to share such intimate,caring insights.

  3. marcea0k says:

    Yes…oh yes. And there will be days when you’re in nature and a particular bird in flight catches your eye or the glint of the sun on the pond makes you blink as your eyes tear up and you think this beauty reminds me of someone living in my heart. And it will feel like home.

  4. Deb Oswald says:

    Peace and love to you Callen. AND hugs

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