background: interest in dragonflies

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From the project climbing anxious spires, a collection of scenes and environmental portraits about awe, confusion, wonder and isolation.

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background: interest in dragonflies

Something I haven’t really mentioned a lot on this site is my fascination with insects. I have a series posted called insect life but that barely touches on the impact a certain order of insects have had on my life over the past decade.

I literally stumbled into my observational studies of insects one summer day when I was walking home after a particularly trying day at work. I had driven to work but had such a bad day I decided I wanted to walk home. I took a shortcut through a park and sat down under a tree in the shade and looked around at all the creatures buzzing around me while I took deep breaths. It was calming to watch them fly, do their own things and be completely indifferent to my presence. Since that day I’ve probably preferred insects to humans, with a few exceptions.

Male Pachydiplax longipennis attempting to usurp perch of male Celithemis eponina

Male Pachydiplax longipennis attempting to usurp perch of male Celithemis eponina

As I walked more I noticed more and more diverse bugs and their behaviors and I bought some books and eventually some equipment that allowed me to photograph insects more closely. I started focusing on dragonflies, sometimes catching them to have a closer look. I collected specimens I found that had died and eventually captured living specimens for study. Despite approaching this from a moderately academic framework it didn’t occur to me to study science in college…. I guess this activity was completely intrinsic and almost meditative for me and I had already developed a slough of mostly negative experiences and associations with higher-education and the facilities I had attended.

Anyway, my life since then has been a series of tangentially-inspired haphazard adventures and attempts to forcibly meld my situation into a socially-acceptable reality. And it hasn’t really worked. But, all along the way, often when things have not coalesced, my fascination with dragonflies has influenced my decisions to live and travel in the tropics (Asia and South America), to visit different ecosystems, habitats and museums all over the world, to develop other more scientific interests, to inadvertently become a natural history educator and probably most importantly, to find a disconnection from the a needlessly-busy and egotistical modern human world and achieve some sort of peace I’ve not become proficient at finding elsewhere.

Obviously dragonflies are just a proxy and likely other solitary observations of any organism or natural phenomena in its native state could take the place of the coldly-rational and objective existence I see in dragonflies. There is no malice, no fumbling hesitation, no unnecessary conversation–just forward motion or death.

I don’t mean to imply some nonsensical spiritual connection or mutual affinity with other creatures but I am happy that through many years as I have developed that my intrigue with dragonflies has also grown and helped nudge me in many new directions and interactions.

So…thanks dragonflies, even though you can’t hear me because you do not have ears.


  • You have put the whole thing so succinctly, so beautifully!

    • Thank you, Balan. It is something I have definitely spent a lot of time thinking about recently.

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