Dragonflies

by Terry Sterrenberg

“If everyone could step outside their hamster wheel and create a vision, it would be a different world.”
Laurie Simons

Last week Laurie and I initiated two Zoom sessions inviting people to play our Community Wealth Game and also to have a conversation about wealth building in communities. We are thinking of offering these events every month. Both of these were ideas that we have had for some time that got side tracked by the pandemic. There is at least a ten year history to the game and wanting and wondering how to have conversations about transforming the future.

During that time we have discovered many stories or parables about change and transformation. This has been a lifelong search of trying and failing and trying again as reflected in the following poem I wrote in 1974.

“Trying”
Strong and firm
The wings of the mighty gull
Strokes the air,.
Propelling him beyond his wildest dreams.

Time and again
He climbs
higher,
Higher,
Up,
Up,

Into the farthest corners of space;
Expecting the sun to open
And let him pass through./

And then,
In an instant
Plunging to earth
To the beach
That he calls
His home.

The familiar often feels most safe. Even if it is not.

The story of the dragon fly though is where I have often found myself. Dragonfly larvae live in water and the story goes like this.

There was a mystery in the pond. Some of the creatures had escaped. They crawled up a reed. The problem was that not one of them ever came back into the pond to tell the rest of the creatures what was up there. There were rumors. Most could only image disaster, chaos, and death at the top end of the reed and were very afraid to climb the reed. The mystery of what was up there remained. So the creatures made an agreement. The next one of them who went up the reed promised to come back to tell them what was up there. One day, one of the creatures crawled up the reed and disappeared. So all the creatures waited and waited for his return. The creature climbed up the reed and out of the water into blinding sunlight. As his eyes adjusted he could see that this place was magnificent, and then, being very tired, he fell asleep. When he awoke he tried over and over to go back into the water to tell his friends of this wonderful place. But he could not. In his sleep he had grown a set of amazing wings that let him fly and fly but alas he could not swim. His wings prohibited him from going back to his friends in the the pond. So for them the mystery remained. (this is a slightly modified children’s story written by Doris Stickney called “Water Bugs and Dragonflies”)

I have felt like that dragonfly, talking a message that no one hears, unable to connect because of being part of different worlds and world views. That is what happened when I moved back to the United States after 10 years in Canada, and tried to describe what it felt like to have universal healthcare. It is why we made The Healthcare Movie. It felt like like I was speaking into the wind (sometimes like spitting into the wind).

I would like our events where we play the Community Wealth game and participate in conversations about building local community wealth to be “dragon fly” experiences
where we are able to look at and share our visions with each other and feel comfortable stumbling over our words. Where we meet the edge of each other’s worlds in confusing yet loving words. Where our awareness of our differences bring us curiosity instead of defensiveness and where we experience each others’ life entering our own. I want our conversations to reflect that we are all dragonflies crawling up that fateful reed to manifest our wings and fly out of the crushing pond of economic slavery in which we all live.