Throughout my 45+ years on this planet, I’ve seen some pretty amazing natural phenomenon. While walking with my mom on Sawyer Camp Trail in San Mateo, we encountered a large buck standing on a hill staring down at us and as we glanced up, the sun just happened to be setting perfectly in between its antlers. Another time, while I was on a 6th grade camping trip, we discovered a large meadow of white wildflowers in the middle of the forest and when one of my classmates stepped into it, clouds of ladybugs burst from seemingly nowhere and many of them lit upon us … covering us all in red and black. Finally, at one of the many late night beach parties I attended in Half Moon Bay, we were shocked to find our footprints were glowing. Every time we stepped in the wet sand, green sparks would shine and then fade before our disbelieving eyes. We later discovered that a tiny, single-celled marine animal called “noctiluca” will often wash up onto the shore and when it’s disturbed, it emits a bio luminescence or those eerie green sparkles that glowed in our wet footprints.
While I am not a religious person, I will frequently find myself looking for meaning in things and events, especially when they coincide with nature. While I’m almost positive these events are only coincidence, I simply can’t help theorizing that there might be a more “spiritual” reason that I saw this miracle – for lack of a better word – and that if I don’t pay attention, I might miss something important.
A couple of weeks ago, John and I were strolling through the Sydney & Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden in New Orleans City Park. It was a gorgeous spring day, one of those local rarities, where the weather was warm, but not to hot because a cool breeze kept the bright sun from bearing down on us. We had made one loop and were coming around to a bridge that leads directly to what I think is one of the most interesting sculptures in the park called “Karma” by Korean artist Do Ho Suh. The piece is made of stainless steel and rises to 23 feet. It depicts a man standing and on his shoulders is another, slightly smaller man squatting so he can cover the first man’s eyes. There is another man on the shoulders of the 2nd man doing the same thing and it goes on and on as the piece reaches into the sky. Because each man is smaller than the last and because the piece arches backwards away from you as it gets higher, it seems like it goes on forever to infinity.
With my camera, John was zooming in to seek out the end of the sculpture and, to his surprise, he found a dragonfly perched right on top. At first he thought it was part of the sculpture till the creature suddenly took flight and sped away, but not before John managed to capture a shot, albeit a blurry one.
He showed it to me and we laughed a bit, thinking how funny it was that a dragonfly used this strange perch and how odd it was that John just happened to spot it at that moment. We both pondered its meaning before moving on.
The statue is titled “Karma” which is defined “(in Hinduism and Buddhism) as the sum of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding their fate in future existences.” We are all blind to the actions in our past existences, sometimes even in our current ones, and we are (theoretically) burdened in our growth as beings by the ramifications of some of those actions. Dragonflies, on the other hand, quite often symbolize change, specifically change in our perspective of self-realization, “the kind of change that has its source in mental and emotional maturity and the understanding of the deeper meaning of life.”
Was some mystical force in the universe trying to tell John something? That his karmic journey was coming closer to self-actualization? Had he experienced so many fruitful existences that his next life would be one of nirvana? Or was it simply that a dragonfly got tired and spied this convenient perch at the same time John was peering through a camera to find the top of the sculpture?
Though we may never discover the answer, it’s certainly entertaining to ponder the possibilities!