About four minutes ago, I was cleaning up in the laundry room and happened to mindlessly sweep a spider out of her cozy spot, momentarily ignorant to the fact that a broom sweeping a delicate arachnid out of her slumber could orchestrate a similar experience to an arena zamboni tossing me off my front lawn, onto to my neighbor’s driveway 3 doors down.
Sometimes I’m merciless with tiny insects, as many of us are, and other times… I focus my eyes a few inches from them, observe their intricate detail, and experience mental sparks of multidimensional perspectives. In other words, I can’t help but consider that a bug’s reality could be just as potent and intense as my own, regardless of me being considerably larger than they are. I mean, OF COURSE their reality is just as intense as mine! To assume it isn’t, is like assuming my perception is nothing compared to what a dinosaur’s would be, just because I’m less than 1/100th of a Sauroposeidon’s size. And we know that’s not true at all, as although humans are tiny little vermin in comparison to a Sauroposeidon, the size of a creature does NOT always have a relation to its intelligence or ability to perceive reality at all. There are large animals who are extremely smart, and even larger animals who are not. There are tiny animals who don’t demonstrate recognition of patterns, and others who seem to do so better than some university students. Alas, the size of a body or brain does not always correlate to the intelligence within it.
I’ll confess: I’ve had times where I’ve squashed an insect just because I was too lazy to quarantine it and bring it outside, and I’ve had times where I’ve made it a mission to save a fruit fly from a cobweb. I’ve had times where I nearly fell on my face, balancing on a chair with a mason jar to save a moth in the corner of my room, and I’ve had recess breaks in elementary where I set ants on fire with a magnifying glass. In fact, I’ve walked around my grandfather’s pool knowing that to every insect flapping in the water, or still breathing, I was God. (I’m not a sociopath, keep reading)— I knew that I was the only thing that could save them. And to me, that was trippy, for lack of a better word, and at the same time, strangely inspiring. I remember scanning over the water, looking over motionless, lifeless insects, like the ending scene in Titanic, trying to find a sign of life. And then I spotted one tiny little guy struggling in the water, and I mean tiny— barely larger than a fruit fly. I swiftly lifted him out of the chlorinated H2O with a net, onto the palm of my hand, and watched as he miraculously got his shit together.
My eye was just a few inches from his little body. It was only up close that I could observe the great detail on his back, which was an almost reflective lime green. I could see his eyes. His wings were soaked and flattened against his sides. His legs were in a tangle. He started to recuperate by shaking his head around. He then lifted the front of his body up with his two front legs and began grooming himself. Slowly but surely, he was able to wiggle one wing into place. Then the next. He shook himself off again, dragged himself up onto all fours, and eventually rose off the palm of my hand. As I looked up, my eyes went out of macro-mode and I watched as he flew off. It was like fabulous cinematography. I wished I had a camera to record it, because it showed that undebatable intelligence, struggle, and lust for life is most certainly present in creatures smaller than THE PUPIL OF MY EYE! It proved that size is never indefinitely associated to the ability to perceive!
So, now that we have that established, back to the spider I so violently evicted from her comfort with my dollar-store broom.
I crouched down onto the floor and watched as she tried to get away from the pile of dust and kitty litter pebbles, and I realized one leg was totally broken. All her bendy appendages moved in a synchronistic motion except for one. It was limply dragging along with the rest of them and Ms. Spider could barely get away. I carefully pulled a black cat hair out from under her body. She was still struggling to crawl. Her body designs were cool. She was trying to get to safety. She was intelligent. For the first time since I ate a donut with egg solids in it a few months ago, I again found myself in guilty-vegan mode. The moment then arose where I had to debate whether or not to put her out of her misery. Observing and imagining the pain and struggle of a forever-broken leg, and no way to fix it, I ran to get one of my running shoes. Smack. She was still alive. A second time, smack. And then again, just to make sure… SMACK. I could almost hear Mozart’s Masonic Funeral Music for Orchestra in C minor. You think I’m joking? I’m not. I still feel bad. Again, look how much smaller we are compared to dinosaurs, and yet how profoundly our ability to feel emotions, desires and pain are.
Next time you see a bug crawling on your floor, get down on your stomach. Lay right down and position whichever one of your eyes works best as close as you can to the critter. Focus. Observe. We don’t realize the effect or power we have over the life of other beings. And to think how careless I was as a kid to squash an ant just because I could. I partially blame the stress-inducing 9-to-5-labor structure of society on the fact that we don’t take enough time to explore perspectives. I also partially blame the chemicals in our food, water and environment inhibiting and numbing our ability to tap into higher consciousness to do so. And the last puzzle piece to our perceptual negligence? Our lack of gratitude. As soon as you are truly grateful for having a body, a mind, a beating heart, vision, and life itself, you are more likely to be considerate of such things present in other beings.
Copyright Erin Janus 2013.