The kindergarten kids from the program went on a field trip today and I acted as driver and chaperone, which I always really enjoy doing because it takes me away from my desk. Their destination was the Kidspace Museum in Pasadena and neither they, nor I, really knew what to expect. The central building of the museum housed an intricate climb and slide play area where the kids could pretend that they were ants.
I remembered the multitude of times I squatted in front of an ant hill in the summer and watched those tiny soldiers march in and out of their tiny hilled home. No, I wasn’t a torturous child, I would watch them in awe and wonder just what they were thinking, doing, what the inside of their little home looked like. I wondered if they young ants played and were scolded by their mother and if the older ants felt tired at the end of the day.
I walked around the building taking in all of the other exploration centers that were set up for the kids and found myself inside of a tiny bug zoo. The outside looked like a rock cave with a floor that felt like dense sand. Inside there were a series of glass cases arrange in a circle with a bright black light above them. Most of the bugs were hiding under sticks and rocks, except for the stink bug pictured above. I squatted there for a bit, just like I did when I was a kid and stared at it. It seemed to be frozen in time, it’s abdomen raised to the sky and head charging forward. I’m not exactly sure, but I think it may have been staring me in the eye. For just a few seconds it was me, 5’9”, two arms, two legs, four eyes (I was wearing my glasses) and this stink bug, 2” long, six legs, having a staring contest.
Then I realized that there was a thick pane of glass sitting between us and perhaps it wasn't a staring contest that we were having, but a silent conversation.
"How could you do this to me? Why won't you set me free."
It occurred to me just then how awful and pretentious we humans can be. We go around and collect these living things that are not like us and put them in glass boxes and cages where sticky-fingered children bang on their new home hour after hour.
I realize that I set up this blog to talk about all of things I find beautiful in myself and the world around me, and what I've just said sounds a bit... bleak. No worries, I'm getting there.
So I squatted there, like I used to when I was a kid, and stared at this stink bug who at some point in his (or her) life was running under some fallen leaf, gathering food for sustenance when it was suddenly plucked from it's only known existence.
How easily we go through life and forget that everything around us, outside of us is alive. Trees, birds, spiders and insects and everything else we may run and scream from. We get engulfed in our credit cards and 3D movies, internet connections and dating services. We not only don't make time to stop and smell the flowers, but we don't take a second to realize the world we're living in.
I used to think I was a bit nuts for saying hello to birds and spiders, perhaps some people think I am. I really don't mind that opinion though, I'm happy to be able to disconnect from my social existence to say hello to my instinctive world. It's a beautiful world under those rocks and leaves.
Not too soon into my telepathic conversation with this stink bug, two little girls ran into the cave-zoo. I smiled at them and said "say hi to Roger." They looked at me puzzled and asked how I knew that, since it didn't say it anywhere.
"He told me!" I said, and happily bounced out.
(post data: I haven't killed a spider since this day.)