The cool light dances above me, between the green feathered algae and the towering twigs that reach for the sky and surround me in my home. I am the crawling beastie of the bottom, armoured with a scaly shell that itches as I make my way to the next meal. A tadpole swims across my path and my mouth unhinges into the widest gape of the insect tribe. I devour the wriggling tail, life becoming death in my body in an instant, giving me more life. The itching becomes unbearable and so I climb. My curiosity about the dancing light is peaked. I have heard stories of the upper world from the hooked fish travellers but I have never seen it for myself. My spindly legs carry me inch by inch up the rough bark, further and further from the familiar world of the bottom dwellers.
My head breaks the surface, an edge that I didn’t know existed. Bewildered, I look around this light, airy world and I feel the breeze for the first time. I hear the songs of huge predators that fly over head and land in the most gigantic, towering algae I have ever seen. A voice whispers to me that they are trees. I keep climbing and find myself on a large, warm rock that is hotter than anything I have ever experienced. I can’t look directly at the sky because the light source radiates a powerful heat. I sit there cooking and drying off from the watery medium of my previous home. I had not realised until now that the water was so dense and cool.
The weirdest sensations are starting to happen inside of me and all I can do is sit and feel these upwellings, these shifts, and I slowly drift to sleep. I wake up with a sudden urge to break free. From what? From this hard shell that is no longer itchy but rather like a wall that presses down on me. The pressure builds and a crack in the armour opens behind my head. I slowly unzip the armored coat and the sensation of wind is now so strong that I consider going back inside. But it feels very good and so I continue the fight to free myself of this case that was once part of me but now restricts my every movement. I lie their on the rock now free and I see an image of myself for the first time. It is a light and hardened replica of my old bottom dwelling self. My shiny wings slowly begin to unfurl as they dry in the light of the sun.
A dark shadow casts coolness over my stone and before I know what is happening I have been caught. I hear a voice now, not from inside of me, but the loud voice of an air world creature. A towering human with long brown hair, covered head to toe with cloth, and a hat reading Researcher, has now encased me in a white netting. I struggle to break free again but it is no use as my wings are new and I am quickly enveloped by the darkness of death.
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If dragonflies could cry, I would be crying as I witness my dragonfly sister being beheaded from the shelter of a maple tree. The human being that calls herself Zoe has just killed her first adult dragonfly as part of her scientific research project that examines toxic mercury in our bodies. I have lived in this air world long enough to know that, generally speaking, humans are unusual and self-centered creatures. Some of them perform scientific research, which is an endless exploration of the perceived divisions between life’s phenomena; for example between water and air. The intentions of scientific studies are often well meaning, as they try to understand the tiniest details of mysterious life processes and find answers to their existential and human-centered questions. However, in their hunger for knowledge, they kill many many beings and harm the life processes that they aim to understand. Killing for survival is one thing and killing for the pursuit of knowledge is another. With a sudden pang of hunger, I leave the leaf for a moment to pursue a mosquito that buzzes around Zoe’s left ear. My jaw entraps it and I end its life in a moment, whizzing by with a new burst of energy.
I hear her crying and so I land on her shoulder to observe, curious to see her reaction to an act that is so acceptable for a human and yet so absurd. Large tears roll down her cheek and splash into the lake water beneath her, causing little ripples that sway the blades of grass. Her pain is the pain of all humans. A timeless pain that comes from the perception of being a separate body in a separate world, separate from all the creatures of the Earth. It is a pain created by their powerful minds, the ego as some call it, that surfaces during these times of perceived loss and struggle. Our hearts connect and I feel her struggling against the constructs of science, the belief that she and the dragonfly are separate, and the belief that life and death are separate and competing forces. I feel her desire to connect with something bigger that can bring about healing for the planet without causing more pain. It is in this moment that I decide to help her, to share the teachings of transformation passed down to me through my ancestors and the wisdom of all time. I want to help her free herself from the human struggle with the ego, and perhaps she can pass on this wisdom to other humans that are also struggling to break free.