Sitting with a Fly

It’s unusually quiet this morning. I’m sitting in the shade on the back porch looking at the trees. Observing. Writing. Listening. Paying attention.

The only sounds are the rustling of western grey squirrels ever-searching the leaf litter for food and the breathing of the sky through the cedar, oak and fir trees.

The fly that just discovered me is turning tight circles around my head, investigating, assessing, looking for a safe place to land while its wings beat 200 times a second.

If I could count from 1 to 1000 in 1 second, 1 beat is the time it would take me to count from 1 to 5. I’m dumbfounded thinking about this fly and its ability to maneuver in ways that nothing human made has come close to approximating.

Rather than brush it off as an annoyance to be shooed away, interrupting my writing , I will sit with it; observing, hearing, feeling, breathing.

This is life rapping me on the head with it’s knuckles, figuratively and literally. “Hey – look at this thing”, it says. “Isn’t it SO cool? Seriously. Look at it. Really look at it. Don’t react out of habit with arms flailing, trying to whack it away because you can’t stand the sensation of little legs walking over your arm hairs. Invite it to spend some time with you. Let it land somewhere so that you can watch what it does, how it moves. It won’t bite you through those jeans. Relax.”

I relax and fold my hands into my lap and the fly lands on my knee, proboscis moving up and down taking samples, searching, evaluating. I think about the fly’s wings, their composition, structure and how they are powered. No cords, no batteries, no refined fossil fuel, no solar panels, just wisp thin biological membranes and motors carried around by a living organism that weighs in at tens of milligrams. Does it dissipate heat in those wing-motors by an equally brilliant means? How is this little thing even alive? Consider the complexities of biochemistry and biomechanics packed into a tiny, self-directed, self-replicating, completely autonomous, discrete, miraculous mystery.

Contemplating this fly is much more interesting than whatever the hell I’m brewing in my head to translate into crude symbolics later.

This fly was not created in an ISO certified factory stuffed to the brim with today’s most sophisticated technologies. It was created out in the dirt somewhere, with no tools and with raw materials that happened to be lying around.

Living and non-living groups of particles cannot be fairly compared in this way, but I’m not interested in fair comparisons. I’m just observing and what I’m observing is worthy of my attention and my reverence.

Image 1 source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Insect_flight_downstroke.svg

Image 2 source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Venation_of_insect_wing.svg

Image 3 source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Motion_of_Insectwing.gif

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