Yesterday I rescued a dragon in distress. Or maybe it was a damsel.
In truth, it was most likely a dragonFLY or a damselFLY. But it was most definitely in distress.
I had let my dog out into the garden for her usual morning ramble. She’d given fair warning to all the birds, sniffed the newly opened flowers, taken care of “business” and demanded to be let back into “her” house. And right on her tail (almost literally) flew this confused creature.
I left the door open. I tried to shoo it back toward freedom. But the silly thing decided that the window NEXT to the door offered the best chance at escape and began to beat its fragile wings against the screen.
Now I am fond of dragons (my dog is even dubbed “The Dragon Dog”) and count a fair number of damsels among my friends. So I wasn’t concerned with WHICH kind of winged beauty was dying to escape from my kitchen, I just wanted to help.
Of course, my attempts to distract it from its escape plan and offer an alternative exit route only panicked the poor thing. And I realized, to this tiny, beautiful creature I am the dragon!
Not counting the gossamer wings, this thing was no bigger than my finger. My entire hand must have looked like a moving mountain. What little brains it had were all in “OH SHOOT” mode. (Dragons and damsels don’t use “bad” language, I’m told.)
I won’t keep you in suspense. The story ends happily. At last, exhausted and possibly encouraged that the mountain hadn’t yet toppled onto it, the dragon/damsel in distress clung to my finger. I covered it gently with my other hand and darted out the back door.
I pulled the door closed with my toe (NOT as easy as it sounds) and uncovered my unexpected guest. It blinked at me. REALLY, I think it was saying “thank you” – and then it flew away.
All day I pondered how often we try to show someone an open path to freedom, to power, to success, to greener pastures, to somewhere they SAY they want to be. And then have had to watch them beat their wings against the barriers on the path they have chosen.
I thought about how often I’ve been the dragon, frightening or intimidating when I only wanted to help. And I pondered how often I have been the dragonfly in distress, frightened and intimidated by the friendly dragon who was only trying to rescue me from my own stubborn blindness.
There are so many lessons in this story – for dragons and dragonflies both. I’ll share a few.
If you’re the dragon –
Saying “I’m a friendly dragon” with fire trickling from your nostrils may not be very convincing. Your dragonfly isn’t a mind reader, it won’t know your intent, it will only know what you say and how you say it. Be empathetic. Ask “how will this appear to a dragonfly?” – not “how would it appear to another dragon?”
You may have to be patient, difficult when you’re having to watch the dragonfly bruising its wings trying to be free. But if you just grab the poor thing by its delicate wing and take it outside, chances are it will never fly again. Your dragonfly will have to tire of doing things its own way and you will have to allow that process to take place.
You may have to move slowly, even if 30 seconds FEELS like 30 minutes. A hand the size of a mountain moving at normal human speed is a MAJOR threat to a poor little dragonfly. Offer your help at the pace your dragonfly can accept, regardless of how badly you want to see it fly on its own.
You may have to give the benefit of the doubt. A distressed creature isn’t thinking rationally. So you may be tempted to say “You’re too stubborn and stupid to be worth saving! Beat your wings to ribbons, see if I care!” But you know that is just your frustration speaking. Your dragonfly is plenty smart (for a dragonfly) – its just not thinking at full capacity right now.
If you’re the dragonfly –
DO NOT PANIC! (good advice if you’re the dragon too, but dragons are less prone to panicking. Or so I hear…)
Seriously, no matter how severe your situation (or how malicious the dragon) panicking serves no purpose. Have a breakdown later – when you’re safe and telling your tale of escape to all your dragonfly friends. Right now, keep your wits about you and THINK.
DO NOT ASSUME! (and yes, I know how to spell ass-u-me, but it can also make you DEAD if you make the wrong assumption about a dragon.)
If you assume the dragon will eat you and you’re wrong, you’re going to die beating your wings against the window screen while the dragon wrings her claws in despair. If you assume the dragon is friendly and he isn’t… well, I’ll let you finish that story. Pay attention to clues, then go back to the last tidbit of wisdom and THINK!
STOP being stubborn and OPEN your eyes! If you’d just admit you MIGHT be wrong about the best chance of escape being through the window you might be able to see the open door. ‘Nuff said!
REMEMBER – that dragon didn’t graduate from dragonfly status into full fledged, firebreathing dragon extraordinaire without learning a few things. (What? You say dragonflies don’t grow up to be dragons? How would YOU know?)
Just because you can’t see the open door, or any other path to freedom, to power, to success, to greener pastures, to somewhere you SAY they want to be, does NOT mean you need to beat your wings to ribbons against the window screen. The dragon can probably offer many other possibilities and paths if you’ll only listen.
In reality, I think being a dragon or a dragonfly is situational.
I have dragons in my life. I am blessed to have MANY dragons who have come along to rescue me from shredding my wings.
I’ve also had the opportunity to rescue a few dragonflies. Some flew thankfully on their way, some determinedly beat their wings against the screen.
Regardless of your role, dragon or dragonfly, just remember – you were BORN to fly!