Monday, November 9, 2009

Window on the Soul

I wake up one morning, right myself in bed, and see an earwig wriggling across the tan linoleum floor.  Eew.  I don’t like earwigs.  I could let it continue on its way—or I could kill it.  I look around me and imagine it crawling where it will—the bed, the shelves of clothes, the bin of socks and underwear.   The vision is convincing. 

But, on the edge of action I hesitate with this sudden thought: I save every other kind of crawling thing.  What makes it okay to kill an earwig?  Just because its body arcs side to side, creepy-fashion, as it walks?   Just because it has those pincers on its rear?  Those pincers never hurt me.  And besides, I save creatures that do hurt me, like wasps, yellow jackets, and bees.  I never kill a wasp just because it mistakenly entered the house. I trap it with a plastic tub and a piece of cardboard and throw it outside.  Or have Larry do the same. And spiders… I put them out or let them be.  When I fail to rescue one from the tub and it drowns, I feel a cloud of remorse and wish the little thing was alive again.  But not with earwigs. 

How corrupt, I think, to spare life on the basis of personal preference. 

So I get up, find a piece of paper, and bend down to place it in the earwig’s path.   It crawls on and, as I straighten up, drops off.   I get the earwig on again, and we race—it towards the edge of the paper and me towards the door.  It wins.  Shit.  This is a lot of trouble for an earwig.  And first thing in the morning, too.  I try a few more times, but the earwig, older and wiser, turns away from the paper now. 

I don’t even think of getting a container to trap it.  I toss the paper aside, put my shoe down on the one inch life and say, “Okay, you die.”

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