Too big to fear

Posted on April 21, 2010


It was a fine day for a walk on the beach. Far out on the Bay ducks paddled in pairs, making duckly conversation, keeping a wary eye on Miss Sadie and the Cowboy. Closer at hand, much smaller creatures seemed completely oblivious to the enormous beings that had invaded their planet. There were ladybugs all over the place–different kinds of them, sunning themselves.

I think the little beetles are pretty, like enameled jewelry.

Until the last few years, I’d never seen any kind but the bright red ones with black dots.  Then yellow and orange ones popped up.  Today I saw a brand new one, much larger than the others. I’m pretty sure it’s an Asian ladybug.

I have no idea what the beetles might have been saying to each other as my monstrous self loomed over them, blotting out the sun.  Probably grousing about the weather.  It occurred to me that the dogs and I are so out of proportion to the beetles that they probably don’t think about us at all.  There is nothing they can do about us.  They can’t get away from us.  They can’t kill us.  They can’t make friends with us.  They can’t make out our intentions.  So they just go on about their beetle business, even in our shadow.  Why not, after all?  What’s the alternative? 

From a duck’s perspective, we are worth thinking about.  The ducks on the beach have some experience of the Cowboy, and wish to keep well clear of him.  They have that option.  They can swim better than he can, and they can fly. 

From a beetle’s perspective, we’re just too much to think about.  It can’t imagine what to do about us, so it ignores us.  We are too big to fear.  

Maybe that’s what denial is all about.  Just a practical coping mechanism that lets us keep on keeping on, even as something large and mysterious looms between us and the sun.  Distractability can be a good thing.

Oh, look, here are some pretty daffodils growing on the scrubby land out at the Central Lake recycling/transfer station. 

See how that works?