I read in the Seattle Times newspaper recently that a dragonfly, in its nymph stage, lives in the water for up to four years while it is growing & developing. When it finally emerges from its skin, it only lives a few months.
I know there are other insects who have an even briefer adult life, but this substantial insect caught my attention for one specific reason – although its post-nymph life is brief, it goes for the gusto during its brief time on Planet Earth.
It’s believed that dragonflies have existed on Earth for approximately 300 million years – wow! – that’s older than us humans!!! I guess they’ve had a great deal of time to learn how to make their individual lives count. As nymphs, growing & developing under water, a special appendage on their head helps them to spear their food – small fish, other insects, yum! When full grown and ready to emerge, the dragonfly climbs out of the water, sheds its skin, and waits for its wings to dry before getting down to business.
By the time their wings are developed, they are considered full-grown adults and have only a few weeks remaining of their lives. Their primary goal during this winged stage is mating – so when you see two dragonflies flying through the air attached to one another, it is almost always a male and female mating. I guess they are able to fly while “distracted” because they can see nearly 360 degrees around themselves at all times – no obstacle will get in the way of these industrious bugs! And I can’t help but state that they present an entirely new definition of the mile-high club.
But this article isn’t really about dragonflies and their mating-in-flight capabilities. It’s about how you and I choose to live our lives because in the grand-scheme of things, our life span is just as short as an insect’s, if not – relatively speaking – shorter.
Considering how old the world is, even if we live to be 100, it’s still a drop in the bucket compared to the years that have preceded us, and the infinity that will carry on after us.
I wrote two articles on this Blog site about making the most of our lives – especially as we near retirement. Retirement Planning – it’s not what you think; and Creating the next chapter of your life explore whether “the rest of our lives” post-retirement will bore us and benefit few; or excite us and benefit many. This topic interests me greatly because I witnessed first hand what an unplanned retirement can look like.
A few months into my father’s retirement, my mother started to complain about my dad’s inactivity – phew, not fun! Before long – and in the midst of great boredom on his part – my father got the hint, climbed off his golf cart, and pursued volunteer opportunities with AARP. You see, he realized within a few months of retirement that he wasn’t satisfied not contributing to the larger community around him. The long and the short of it is that both my mother and father eventually established a state-wide volunteer program to help the elderly and low-income individuals with their annual tax returns. My parents recruited other like-minded retirees, put them through training, and by the time of my parents’ real retirement, this tax-aide program had helped more than a million people in the course of 20 years.
But that was them. That’s what my parents could do and enjoyed doing. We have to discern what an appealing retirement looks like for us. I don’t begrudge anyone a relaxing and enjoyable retirement – I’m all for it – but let’s not waste our previous employment skills by putting them on hold as soon as we leave our J-O-B.
My husband surprised me the other day when he stated that he’s already thinking about what he’ll do when he retires – four years hence. I’m thrilled that he’s already considering his options, and who knows? Maybe we’ll team up and do something meaningful to both of us, just as my parents did many years ago.