Rebecca Murphy is a life coach life coach, a photographer, an artist & adventurer. She writes Finding Freedom In the Leaping. After traveling New Zealand for six months and then discovering that the corporate world wasn’t for her, she decided that life is too short to be unhappy. She decided to be a life coach and has never looked back.
It’s not everyday that I get to cool off in a gorgeous river, so when I get the chance I tend to leap at it. The day was hot and muggy and the only relief to be found at my aunt and uncle’s farm in Maine was down the steep hill behind their house that terminated at a sandy meander of the Saco River affectionately dubbed “their” beach. This “beach” was a mix of orange and black sands spotted over with river grass and low brush. It would be different each year, widening or disappearing altogether depending on the Spring melt flows. If there was enough room for a couple of sand chairs we all considered it a good year.
Strong in the middle, the current of the river is a soft and gentle push along the edges, with perfect knee high pools stretching into waist and chin deep drifts. The bottom littered with old logging trunks means you have to watch where you step, but other than that, it’s the safest I’ve ever felt in any body of water.
I was due to drive back to CT that same day, but had decided to get a later start to allow for this quick trip down to heaven. The trees were in their muted September greens and the sky was without a single cloud. I knew that in a matter of hours I would find myself back inside my life, and all the aspects about it I wished were different. Nothing helps you get a feel for the changes you’d like to make than kneeling down in a constantly flowing river watching the water curl around your shoulders and then keep right on moving. Stagnation knows no river.
I was alone about a third of the way to the middle, my knees resting on soft sand, my arms stretched out on either side of me, with my fingers just barely breaking the surface when a tiny white-bodied dragonfly perched on my middle finger tip. I hardly felt it land, and was starring up at the trees, so I almost didn’t see him. If it wasn’t for that glaring white body, I might have missed him there altogether.
Instinctively I froze. He was such a tiny little thing, maybe an inch or two long with see-through wings and fragile looking legs. My pruney finger tips bobbing in the current looked especially washed out next to his vibrant punch of color. I found myself smiling widely, feeling blessed that this graceful creature found me fit enough to land on.
We sat there for many minutes, long enough for me to start thinking about what might have drawn this dragonfly to land on me. From where I sat I could see the distance over to each edge of the river and it wasn’t any short sprint. I had no doubt that he could fly the length of it, and would, but perhaps he just needed a rest in that moment and my fingers looked like a handy place to take it. At least that’s what I really wanted to believe.
But I couldn’t help blinking and sometimes losing my balance as the current pushed against me, and so I would move and he would take off. But he kept coming back. Over and over he would fly a short distance away and then return, even as my hands were closer to my body, and even later as I started to slowly knee-walk my way closer to shore.
Altogether we were in contact for nearly fifteen minutes that day. And I remember each second like it were happening now. Even the feel of his tiny legs clasping onto my finger print ridges is still there in my mind. I had the thought at some point that he might bite me. Do dragonflies bite? But it drifted away as effortlessly as the breeze down the river valley.
And I know that it might seem silly, but it really felt like that little soul was trusting me that day. I was his gentle place to land, something we all need from time to time, while the waters swirl around us. And if indeed he was tired, and in danger of not making it to the other shore, then heneeded to trust me probably more than he wanted to trust me. I was so in love with the whole experience that I needed to trust him, too. I needed to trust that the vastness I was feeling in that moment was real and that the beauty I could feel swelling inside me was leading me somewhere, that I didn’t have to leave it behind when I climbed back up that hill, into my car, and made the five hour journey home.
I was home a few weeks before I gave notice and quit the job I was at. I just couldn’t seem to shake the feeling that there was something more beautiful out there for me and that the ability to change, to ride out the current of life, was something I needed to trust was within me. I can tell you now, years later, that I didn’t find my softer place to land right away or easily, but I did eventually find it.