The Songs of God and Dragonflies

And though nature can sing such beautiful wings
Did you think of this?
That each of us know in our hearts we must go
That’s what beauty is
And just like the dream you were in
Dissolved in the morning sky
As soon as we’re here we disappear like dragonflies
As soon as we’re here we disappear like dragonflies

Boo Hewerdine, Dragonflies

I was awakened early this morning by my mental jukebox – specifically, by Eddi Reader’s version of Dragonflies.  If you don’t know the song, you should, for it is wonderfully lilting as if a child’s song adorned with adult lyrics.  I am often awakened by music playing in my subconscious.  Music seems to me to be an aural expression of the stuff of life.

As I pondered Boo Hewerdine’s lyrics, I began to consider the interconnectivity of all living things.  All living things enjoy the common condition of animation, a gift bestowed by some unknown, mysterious force we humans choose to label as ‘God’.  All humanity is obsessed by the concept of God, by the need to comprehend  the origins of our blessing and to discover and give the proper form of responsive acknowledgement required by our gods; all other living things simply seem to revel in the moments granted to them, their pleasure in their moments seemingly thanks enough for having been so blessed.

And because the concept of God is so ephemeral, so mystical, so all-encompassing, so difficult of comprehension, so isolating of human spirit, I didn’t give it much thought as I lay there listening.  I focused, instead, upon the fact of a shared life force and wondered what it must sound like if it could be heard entire.  It must sound like something, for it exerts an immense amount of energy.  And if we could hear it in its entirety, might we finally understand?

Does it sound like a train?  Probably not, for that is far too human a conceit.  Does it sound like an avalanche?  Probably not, for it must be more than warning if it is a universal driver.   Does it sound like a river rushing through a stretch of rapids?  Probably not, although such a sound must be part of the whole for, if it were not, there could be no imaginable whole.  Maybe it sounds like the hum of an enormous turbine at work within the belly of a giant dam – perhaps the Grand Coulee Dam in the eastern reaches of Humptulips County.  Turbines like these produce electricity for millions, so even if their hum is manmade it may well constitute a close approximation of the sound of the life force at work.  But maybe I am only saying so in a typical human effort to comprehend the unknowable, to hear the song of God.

I listened awhile to my own heartbeat as I lay there in the blessed silence of the dark, thinking that it, too, must be somewhere near the core of the life force’s sound – perhaps its percussion.  But then I began to wonder if plants have a heartbeat, and with that conundrum becoming evident I decided to get up and face this page for I knew it was inevitable that I should do so in such a state.

It is the blankness of this page that made me realize that it doesn’t matter what the sound of the life force’s complete symphony must be; that we ought to simply take our pleasure in the songs of the moment as dragonflies must – in the raspy chorus of lusty frogs in the early Spring; in the squawk of the blue jays and the screech of the pileated woodpeckers that visit our bird feeders and nest in our pines; in the susurration of the ripened stalks in the tan and sere Summer wheat fields of my youth; in the lonely call of a distant, receding train whistle at any time of night or of a chevron of south-flying geese in the light of a late Fall day; in the rustling of leaves in a dense forest grove; in the high-pitched, rapid beating of a dragonfly’s wings; in the roar of an agitated surf; in the cry of a gull, the coo of a dove, or the hoot of an owl; in the soft, tentative footfalls of deer creeping near our house to make a meal of the flowers Helen so lovingly planted as adornment, not food; in the customarily unheard beating of our own hearts, a sound to which we’ve become so accustomed that we can no longer hear it without reminder.

For music is more than just an expression of the stuff of life; it is the essence of each life.  And as Mr. Hewerdine suggests in Dragonflies, each moment of a life is oh so precious:

How can something so fragile leave us helpless
We all feel helpless once in a while
How can something so fragile leave us humble
We all need humble once in a while

About Gavin Stevens

Humptulips County is the wholly fictional on-line residence of Stephen Ellis, a would-be writer, an avid fan of William Faulkner and his Yoknapatawpha County, and a retired lawyer.
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