The only difference between an extraordinary life and an ordinary one is the extraordinary pleasures you find in ordinary things.”–Veronique Vienne
“Just open your eyes and realize, the way it’s always been.
Just open your mind and you will find the way it’s always been.
Just open your heart and that’s a start.” –Moody Blues
Saturday morning I was sitting in the backyard enjoying a cup of coffee, when I spotted a large, orange dragonfly hovering near the fountain by the gazebo. It had been quite awhile since I’d seen one. I was immediately reminded of my childhood home in Baldwin Park. As a young boy I remember seeing them all the time. It seemed like whenever my dad would use the oscillating sprinkler one or two of them would always show up. My friends and I would chase after them or try spraying them with the water and they would dive and soar and zoom about, sometimes it seemed like they would chase after us then suddenly whiz away. They were incredible!
As I was watched the dragonfly I started thinking about the last time I’d seen one in the backyard. I could be wrong but I think it had been when my kids were still very young. Oh I’ve seen some more recently but they were of a smaller variety and dark in color not bright orange. Yes I’m pretty sure that the last time I saw an orange one like this was long before my youngest son was born and he was born back in 1988. The clearest memory I had of seeing one had to be sometime around 83 or 84. My daughter had to have been around 9 and my son 6. Tabitha our neighbors daughter was over and the four of us were in the pool. No not a nice built in or even an above ground Doughboy, just a cheap, Thrifty’s 18 inch plastic pool. the 3 kids were in the pool and I had the hose. I guess it was all the water flying about that drew the dragon fly to us. It seemed to be buzzing us, toying with us. I would squirt the hose at it an it would dodge the spray and dive bomb us. the kids would squeal with delight! Yeah it was quite a pleasant memory.
I sat there watching the dragonfly and began to wonder how it could have been so long since I’d seen an orange dragonfly. How could it have possibly been so long? Then out of the corner of my eye I noticed some movement. I turned and spied two yellow butterflies near the Hawaiian Plumeria. I immediately thought to myself “okay this is weird, first a dragonfly and now butterflies?” Again I couldn’t recall the last time I’d seen two butterflies like these fluttering about the backyard. Of course I’ve seen butterflies from time to time but not two as brightly colored as these two, at least not that I could recall. It was really pretty amazing.
So there I sat watching and wondering and actually feeling a little depressed. Why? Because I realized that the dragonfly and butterflies were nothing new, they hadn’t just materialized out of thin air that morning, no, more than likely they’ve been there all along, probably everyday. With that said, why then hadn’t I noticed them before Saturday morning? At that moment I realized that the failing was entirely mine. I simply hadn’t been seeing what was right before my eyes. I hadn’t been taking the time to appreciate the simply things in life, the natural beauty that exists around us. I had lost sight of what my daughter refers to as “the everyday extraordinary.”
How sad to think that we can get so caught up in living that we lose sight of the simple things in life. Especially for me who fashions himself a writer of sorts and observer of life. How could I have become so complacent to have missed what is right in front of my face. I thought I was aware of life around me, but obviously I’ve lost sight of the little things. Oh, I appreciate the grand things, the sunrise and sunset, the starry skies, the mountains, the crashing of the waves, the smiling faces of my grandchildren. Yeah the big stuff is easy to see, feel and appreciate, but all the little things that I’ve come to take for granted are equally important. I’ve got to take the time to appreciate all of God’s precious gifts, all of the dragonfly and butterflies.
Perhaps now that I’m retired I can take the time to do just that. How sad that I couldn’t always take the time to appreciate the little things. How sad that I’ve wasted so many moments. How sad indeed.
Just a thought…