This morning, I saw a wasp. He’s sitting beside me as I type this, lost in a world of human construction, in a modern building, in a modern city, surrounded by sharp lines, smooth walls, and glass. The employees, of course, are bent on killing it.
It prompts a discussion on the nature of life, and the frailty of it. In my woods, there are thousands of creatures that bite and sting, and no hope of ridding myself of them. They exist. They always have, and they always will. They will outlive human beings by eons.
How such a tiny creature can incite such powerful emotions is a mystery in itself, but one that that does have a valid reason. What is a wasp sting but a simple discomfort? In truth, some people are allergic, and the response can be quite powerful, they have reason to fear the tiny beasts. But for most of us, it’s only a tiny insect, one 500,000th our size. For most of it, the worst fate we could suffer is multiple stings that will heal in a few hours.
Things are quite different from the creature’s perspective. It looks at us as giants that could end it’s life in a microsecond, simply by existing in the wrong place at the wrong time. It wonders about our ability to seemingly pass through invisible barriers. A wasp has no knowledge of glass, or finance, or health inspectors, or city regulations. It’s just a bug, and it’s life hangs on a thin thread when caught in a window.
A fleeting distraction, nothing more. When someone does approach me to end it’s life, it will be rather uneventful. No funeral, no mourning, and soon forgotten. There will be no monument to the creature, no lasting immortality, nothing but a smear of goo, which is of course another subtle annoyance that we seek to be rid of.
I think that sometimes people forget the prestige of our dominion over the other creatures of this planet. We all spring from the same clay, we’re powered by the same sun, and we all harvest the bounty that nature provides for as long as she will. Fortune has granted us the ability to rise above the other creatures, and innovation has given us a life far removed from our ancestors.
Remember for a moment that less than 100 years ago, there was no refrigeration. There was no such thing as a supermarket. Electricity was a limited curiosity more than a basic need. No television, internet, or even radio. No automated washing machines, no local ice creation, none of it. Everything in life that we take for granted, including being free of creeping things. People in those days worried about mice, and even that was a product of not any real danger, but an invasion of our comfortable lifestyle.
The more comfortable we become, the more frail we seem to be. The more we react to natural things as if they were spawned by Satan himself, though we are all God’s creatures. I think it’s important to remind ourselves of these things from time to time, lest we forget the power we wield. We’ve become nearly immune to most annoyances of the past, and yet we seek further comfort. Air conditioners don’t react fast enough, and we argue temperature complaints over a few degrees, such tight restrictions that we can’t even have a consensus over which is best. Some prefer sixty-degree temperatures while others find their comfort zone in the mid-seventies. A soup that burns one mouth is too cold for another. Our access to limitless information never seems fast enough to post social updates. A traffic light interrupts traveling tens of miles in a few minutes.
As we continue to accumulate comforts in life, I wonder if human beings will ever find a moment to enjoy the comforts that we have created, or if we will continue to define ourselves by the destruction of every possible annoyance until there are none left to ponder.
Imagine that for a moment. A world so comfortable that nothing remains to cause complaint. A world with no conflict. That would be the death of storytelling. A world without problems is a world without success or fighting the odds, there will exist no heros, and the only annoyances remaining will be entirely of our own creation.
What a groundbreaking discovery it would be to go out into the world, and discover nature’s creations and discomforts. Pain and discomfort defines the human condition. If we lose all of our discomforts, will we also lose something of ourselves?