We, Will and I, have been finding a multitude of Preying Mantises in our yard lately. First it seemed they fell from the hundred year old oaks in our yard. Now we are not so certain where they come from. We love the Mantis’s exploratory nature, and it’s friendliness. They appear just off t0 one side or another, watching us, hanging around our conversations.
Yesterday, Will and I were sitting at our outdoor dining table talking, and I spotted one, just on the beam of the house next to us, lurking. The next minute, it was perched like a Kung Fu fighter preparing to face off with our old, leaky lab Lucy. We find Mantises all over the place. Climbing up candlesticks on our dinning table more often than not.
The other day a large one appeared on my studio table. It walked across the new sculpture made of glass panes from an old Jalousie window, wire, and chunks of wood. It was a balancing beam of sorts, and the Mantis walked right up into and on it, posing in the sunlight. They seem to know exactly where we spend most of our time, and they arrive in Zen like poses next to us.
Some say that Mantis’s are good luck. I hope so. My mind goes immediately to that famous scene in Bruce Lee’s film Enter The Dragon, to Kareem Abdul Jabar’s fighting scene in the movie. His long thin steely body, shot in side view, and the surprising swiftness and elegance of his moves and to my initial startling realization that someone as tall as Kareem could be a great Kung Fu Fighter. But even more importantly, I realized how limiting the mind can be, and that possibility can exists in the most unexpected places.
I have heard it said among artists, that to be successful , one has to be like a gun slinger in the Western movie High Noon. Success is to be the last one standing, guns smoking. But really, is that how it is? Does it have to be so oppositional so combative?
That can be a hard road to bear. I think more often of the Kung Fu fighters, rather than gun slingers. I think of the Mantis’s slow moves, it’s willingness to take on a 50 Lb Labrador, if it came to that. Despite it’s carnivorous nature, the Mantis walks this earth exploring all manner of things. I love the Mantis’s figure pausing to observe the detritus of our daily life.