buggin’

2 10 2008

i was on a long motorcycle ride the other day, when about 100 yards ahead of me, there was an accident.  an 18-wheeler jackknifed, another hit the highway divider, and a pathfinder got squashed somewhere in the tween.  the rest of us quickly stopped.  and were stuck behind it all.

it was over 45 minutes before the scene was cleared, and in that time, i cut the engine and tried to relax as best i could, wearing black and sitting in the sun.  i leaned forward and noticed a beetle that had come onto the road from the grass.  he was scuttling frantically, as beetles tend to do, but the road wasn’t really made for his beetle features, and the little bumps that he’d hit would divert him pretty dramatically, so that in effect he was going around in big circles, or rectangles, or spirals, but always was staying in the same four square feet or so.  he scuttled on; i wondered if he was aware that he might not be getting anywhere but remained confident that in time, he’d hit the right bumps in the right ways and he’d be on his way to green pastures again.  if it was unnerving to watch at first, as i was hoping for his intelligent or lucky passage out of the danger of baking or eventually being squashed by rubber, it became a full-fledged situation when, as he hit the wrongest bump in the wrongest way, he was flipped to his back.  his legs crawled on air; they reached for nothing over and over again.

I thought to myself of how close he always was to relative safety in the grass.  never was he farther than 6 or 7 feet from the grass of the ditch, but he didn’t have the faculty or the vision to know it.  all he seemed to me to have was hope and resolve.  i don’t suppose either of those are optional when you’re a bug.  they’re as hard-wired as having six legs, if my years of bug watching can attest to any insect behavior.  compulsive, obsessive, and endless bug activity seems to be all they know.  i wondered if that was sad, or if it was nice that they never had to worry about fulfilling a higher purpose.  they had their jobs and they did them to the best of their abilities, always, and without complaint.

did i just start eulogizing bugs?

i guess we think that most bugs and animals and plants are that way.  but, we think, they wouldn’t be if they had the ability to perceive as we do.

so what about people?  great with all of our terrific abilities to perceive, to know, to learn, to act.  but, i don’t believe that we’re the highest consciousness in the universe.  far from it.  in fact, i don’t think many people do think that.  most people believe there is something greater than ourselves.  and how much do you want to bet that they look at us and think that we’d do so much better if we just had their abilities of perception, of knowledge, or understanding?  to them, how much do you think our running to work, to the gym, to pick up the kids, to eat lunch and dinner, to save for retirement, to upgrade the domicile, and to copulate with impressive specimens of our species looks exactly like an innumerable amount of bugs frantically scuttling about, compulsive,  obsessive, and without real reward?

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2 responses

8 10 2008
Mr. Allyson

No bug interventions in the cards? 🙂

Holy shit dude, what an awful accident. I’m so glad you are okay. Driving beside those big trucks always used to freak me out, back in my driving days. I guess with good reason.

I guess I’m going to put on my populist pants here, but what about ‘limitations’ as actually creatively productive? Or as affording you a different perspective that allows you to see things, to perceive things, that might otherwise pass you by?

I barely started reading, and probably won’t read much more for a long time, Oliver Sack’s “An Anthropologist on Mars”. Although I think he sometimes doesn’t take his own idea as far as he could, the book is sort of about that idea: ‘limitations’ as being productive and bringing new ways of knowing to life (so to speak). So far it seems fascinating. I thought you might like it too.

I miss our lunches at Linda’s!

8 10 2008
Mr. Allyson

Let’s just set the record straight, here. I may be guilty of using an emoticon in the above comment, but REST ASSURED I used a “:” in conjunction with a “)” and not that gleaming orb of facial expression shown. I don’t trust that face, it looks like it’s planning something or laughing at us with an unseen audience that most certainly is not us. Either that, or it’s smiling without quite knowing what it’s smiling out, which actually, is probably the more likely possibility of the two.

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