I don’t understand myself sometimes. I like to think I know myself pretty well; like to believe I can see how I’ve matured over the years. And I suppose, in a general sort of way, I do. Every once in a while, though, something comes up and I wonder just how much of that is wishful thinking.
I spent the last ten minutes crying over a cricket. I really can’t understand it. This is something I would have done when I was eight years old, when I pretended I actually believed in Santa Claus or that my stuffed animals had feelings. I never truly believed in magic, I’ve been a skeptic as far back as I can remember (which is preschool). But I liked the idea of believing in it. I liked to imagine I had imaginary friends that I could actually see, and I liked to argue with anyone who tried to convince me they weren’t real. They were just so much more fun than the real world.
But, once again, I have strayed so far from my intended written path. This post isn’t about the magic I used to wish I could believe in, this is about the emotional outbursts I used to wish I could escape. I’ve always been sensitive and prone to taking things personally. Not just the “I feel insulted” taking things personally, but the “if there is pain in the world I need to fix it, and if I can’t the least I can do is cry about it” taking things personally. I suppose that’s not entirely true. That makes me sound sacrificial, and I’ve never been one to have selfless thoughts. I don’t always think I have to be the one to fix the pain, and sometimes I’m even afraid to, but I can’t stand being in the presence of it. My throat constricts and my hands shake and the more I try to tell myself, “Don’t cry, whatever you do, don’t cry…” the tears fall and mingle with the mucus now freely running down my face. (That’s not a very pretty picture, I know, but my nose can’t help it.)
My heart breaks too easily and at inopportune times. The worst part is the helplessness I feel. I’m not the one being hurt, so why am I the one crying? If I really wanted to be of any use I could do something to stop the pain. What good does my snot do anyone? The reason I chose to write about this now is because my latest outburst was over something so minute and ridiculous that I fear I’ve made no progress since my childhood.
I noticed in the dining room the torso of a cricket with both of its hind legs lying about an inch away on either side of it. I figured it must have been the dog who did it, and although I was a little disgusted, I was completely fine with it….until I saw the cricket’s antennae move as it sensed me coming nearer. The legs that were still attached began squirming, and before I could even make a note of it my throat began constricting. I wanted desperately for it to be put out of its misery, but I didn’t want to be the one to do it. Every time I raised the shoe above it, I couldn’t help thinking that I would be taking the life of a living thing. Several minutes (and tissues) later, I finally worked up the nerve to smash it. Good Lord, I’m crying again just thinking about it.
I know how ridiculous this all sounds. Especially after Sara’s beautiful entry about the life and death of someone that actually mattered. Especially since it’s not the first time I’ve killed a bug. I can’t help feeling hypocritical or at least inconsistent, because I have absolutely no qualms with smashing spiders. I usually don’t work up the nerve to kill it myself, but that’s for an entirely different reason than with the cricket—I’m fiercely afraid of having a spider touch me (not bite me, just crawl with its creepy legs on me). But for some reason seeing the pitifulness of that cricket, who had to just lay there and suffer for who knows how long before anyone even noticed it, and then the thought that the longer I hesitated the longer it had to deal with the pain….I didn’t care that it was only a cricket, because it was still alive. However small and insignificant it might be to me, it had life and I was the one that intentionally gave it death.
If I spent this much time crying over and thinking about a cricket I never saw before, how messed up would I be if I ever had to shoot my dog if she were in that much pain? An animal that I love, that I know, that I can actually see has a personality….I don’t think I could ever pull the trigger. I guess I’m just destined to be sentimental my whole life. But I’ll be nice to myself and call it compassion instead.