Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Life Lesson from a Bug

Like most of the lower forty-eight, Oklahoma weather has four seasons, but only two are worth mentioning. One is winter when it’s moderately cold but easily bearable. Unless you’re working outside, put on a lined jacket and you’re good to go. Summer is stifling hot. It sucks up what little energy you stored up from the night before and spews it into a pale and lifeless blue sky. There is no fall. Not enough to brag about anyway. Not like a New England fall with its riot of colors and ubiquitous leaf peepers. We have Blackjack Oak that goes from ordinary green to baby shit brown in the course of a week. Spring? Yes, the sun shines and the green reappears along with dogwood blossoms and the redbud, but so does the gale force winds from the south, stirring up eye-watering pollen, not to mention batches of deadly tornados. Yet, once in a while, on the most rare of occasions, the most perfect of spring days comes along. Today was one of those days.

Ordinary activities, none of which were seriously strenuous, had taken up most of my daylight hours. There was the physical therapy for my shoulder at The House of Pain for most of the morning. Then a little Internet research for an audio amplifier I’ve been thinking about took up a lot more time than I intended. It was somewhere around four p.m. that my thoughts turned to nature and how such a rare day was slipping away from me. Get the camera, I thought, take a drive. Doesn’t much matter where, just do it. I grabbed the camera bag, checked for spare batteries, and made sure I had ample memory cards, got in the pickup…and sat there…thinking. Where to go? A common dilemma. With the price of gas as it is, driving aimlessly around the countryside seemed not only wasteful, but expensive. Knowing full well that you never know what’s out there till you see what’s out there, and yet I couldn’t seem to make a decision. Couldn’t get fired up. Couldn’t make myself put the old tranny in D, and go.

Despite the lack of excessive physical activity since arising at six on this fine day, I realized I was just plain tired. Didn’t take a nap, seldom do, and now, no energy. Making good photos under such conditions is near impossible, at least for me. So, instead of hitting the dusty trail of life and adventure, I drove directly into the garage and shut the door. That act alone was quite depressing. It made me realize how age is creeping up on me and stealing life away.

I grabbed a book (actually a Kindle e-reader), poured myself a spooker, and went outside to the deck to think about things. The red needle on the dinner plate sized thermometer pointed exactly between the 60 and the 80. A slight movement of air from the north rustled the leaves enough to make its presence known but nothing you could call a breeze. My home-made water fixture trickled water into a store bought plastic pool but the pleasing sound was authentic enough to be believable. Beyond that, a Downy Woodpecker half heartedly pecked on a peanut butter suet cake I had hung the day before.

As I took an appreciative sip from the spooker, I noticed an insect of some kind on the glass table before me. The bug was small, not much bigger than an ant, elongated with what looked like tiny silver wings. There was a single round whitish spot on its back. It was moving clockwise, traveling the plastic edging of the table like a narrow highway. I didn’t pay much attention to it at first, but as it made one complete revolution around the perimeter of the table, maybe nine feet total (but miles and miles in bug distance), I began to take an interest. Old White Spot (or Spot for short) continued on its journey for yet another lap, never pausing, never losing its direction, a bug with a purpose. Or perhaps it was just old and confused, like me.

I began to identify with Spot; still healthy enough, able to move around, but only in continuous circles (or in this case, squares) never straying far from the center, and seeing nothing new. Like staying at home, exactly what I was doing. Somewhere between the first and second corner of the fourth lap, He (it had to be a male as it never stopped to ask directions) dropped off the table, or maybe the face of the earth. I never saw it again.

Someday, I thought, in one way or another, just like the bug, we’re all going to drop off the face of the earth. But if we want to enjoy the journey, we simply have to stop going in circles. Get off the path and out of our comfort zone. Tomorrow, I’ll put the old pickup in R, back out of the driveway, and travel my own narrow highway…wherever it leads.

Thanks for the lesson, Spot.


  1. Can't wait to see what comes of're still the same age to me as you've always been. Love you.

  2. I really liked this Bug Blog ! I identified with so much of what you said. Makes me want to "enjoy the journey" more. AMB


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