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Chainsaw-carved dragonfly by Steve Pearson

Dragonflies have held a fascination for me ever since the long summer days of my childhood spent camping and boating with my family in central Michigan. I love to watch them dance and float on the tips of reeds at the lake’s edge. The iridescence of their wings and bodies appeals to my love of all things shiny and glittery. Their funny little faces with their giant eyes make me smile.

It was a great pleasure to integrate a chainsaw-carved dragonfly (carved by Steve Pearson of Pearsonality) into the playscape design at Little Miss Mag Early Learning Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee. This photo I shot of the dragonfly there has been one of my favorites for quite some time. Now I am using it to be part of the identity of my company. Here, at the advent of going into business for myself and starting PLAYceMaker, I have found the symbolism of the dragonfly to be sweetly pertinent to this exciting event in my life.

Borrowing from the article titled Symbolism/Meaning of a Dragonfly on, I learned that the dragonfly has been the subject of intrigue in every single continent in which it is found, and that each culture has applied a unique meaning to it, its behavior and its lifestyle. Read on to discover some of the characteristics that the dragonfly has come to embody for us mere mortals.

Change: The dragonfly is considered to be an agent of change and symbolic of a sense of self-realization. It begins its life in water and then emerges into a creature of the wind and earth. There is wisdom to be found in transformation and being adaptable and flexible in life. The dragonfly reminds us to embrace change and to see it as a positive.

Power and Poise: The dragonfly exudes a sense of power and poise, something that comes with age and maturity. The dragonfly can move at an amazing 45 miles per hour, hover like a helicopter, fly backwards like a hummingbird, fly straight up, down and to either side. It can do this while flapping its wings a mere 30 times a minute while mosquitos and houseflies need to flap their wings 600 and 1000 times a minute respectively. Think of the elegance of responding adroitly to the situation at hand while expending the least amount of energy needed - 20 times as much power in each of its wingstrokes when compared to other insects. And all with the grace of a prima ballerina!

Clear Vision: The dragonfly exhibits iridescence both on its wings and on its body. Iridescence is the property of an object to show itself in different colors depending on the angle and polarization of light falling on it. This magical property of iridescence is also associated with the discovery of one’s own abilities by unmasking the real self and removing the doubts one casts on his or her own sense of identity.

The eyes of the dragonfly are one of its most amazing traits. Nearly 80% of the insect’s brain power is dedicated to its sight, making it able to see in 360 degrees. This symbolizes the uninhibited vision of the mind and the ability to see beyond the limitations of the human self.

Focus on Living in the Moment: The dragonfly lives most of its life as an immature nymph bound to the water. It flies for only a fraction of its life, but does so with power and grace and skill. It symbolizes living in the moment and doing what you are meant to do to the best of your ability for the moment you are in. Live life without the regrets of the past and with hopefulness for the future.

Cultural Interpretations: In Japan, the dragonfly symbolizes summer and fall. The Samurai use it as a symbol of power, agility and VICTORY. In China, it is associated with prosperity, harmony and as a good luck charm. Amongst Native Americans, it is a sign of happiness, speed and purity.

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