Wednesday, October 8, 2008

We're Never Alone.

The first time I realized how outnumbered we are as a species was when I was seven years old. We were playing soldiers in the backyard, and I lay down in the high grass in hopes I could ambush some of the kids on the enemy team.

It was then that I noticed a small white spider crawling up a blade of grass. It was so little that the light seemed to go right through it. I followed the blade of grass down to the dirt below, and saw a pill bug sauntering along. There were two other kinds of bugs--little oval shaped things--smaller than the pill bug, with long antennae and sandy colored shells with black stripes across them. A red ant crawled across my arm. I was surrounded.

I stood up, suddenly uncomfortable in such a sparse & subversive environment of tiny little creatures. There were other ones flying around, just over the grass. You had to squint a little to see them in the sun, but they were all over the place.

Then I heard the rapid clicking of toy guns accompanied by a triumphant crow:
“Bang, Bang, Bang, you‘re dead Spencer!”

I was so caught up my my reverie that I had let my guard down. the opposing team stole the flag from our fort and paraded it around my backyard, but I was mostly nonplussed. I had noticed an ant trail running up the side of my house.

That moment awoke me to the idea that there were systems…that life carried on around me without my knowing. In school I would learn that generations of species of insects would cycle by in my lifetime without my awareness. The ground was swelling with all of the little things. They could infest your house or your hair, lay eggs in your furniture, or crawl away with your food at a picnic. Like in a Yogi the Bear cartoon.

We're never alone.

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