A tale of an earth worm’s journey.
My daily lunch-time walk is an opportunity to clear my mind and try to think about nothing, a great chance for my eyes to see something other than multi-colored square pixels 18″ away and see things they do.
And on a quiet office park drive, things don’t change on a large scale. Its the same curves, the same concrete, the same buildings and trees every day. But things do change on micro level. For instance, there are various flora along the way that drop things onto the street, things like broken twigs and berries. A few wild animals like to leave their “sign”. My encounter with nature requires that I look down a lot.
In the past, I’ve observed a very angry brown recluse spider who was contemplating biting me through my shoes. Why he had such hate for me I will never know. I’ve found several other things that make me think and ask questions like “Why is there a tube of toothpaste laying in the edge of this hedge row?” I even wonder if others notice and think about these things.
Today, I observed earth worms.
A recent rain had brought out several worms out of the ground to end up on the sidewalk where they eventually dried out and became crunchy morsels for the dive-bombing blue-jays. Today the sidewalk was dry. The wind was fairly brisk. Yet a live earth worm, a red worm to be specific in fishin’ terms, was making a trek from its grassy home on the left side of the sidewalk to someplace else, perhaps to the right side. It was clear that with the wind and the dry concrete and its angle of attack that it would not make it. The worm was drying out quickly. It was already struggling and it was barely 8 inches away from the grass it departed from.
So I came to moral dilemma. Do I relocate it?
How would I like for some giant creature from another universe reached down and picked me up and relocated me to another planet? Yes, its just a worm, but who am I to decide what is right or wrong for this worm? I wouldn’t want someone making that decision for me. I’m not God. I may claim omniscience, but I certainly do not claim to be all-powerful or allpresent. I have no right to decide what’s right or wrong for this worm.
Those Star Trek fans will remember this as the major plot to Star Trek:Insurrection, a feature movie from 1998 (I’m sure its been the plots to other movies as well, but being a geek, Star Trek brings us most of our life lessons).
It was going to die. Its life would no doubt be extinguished if I didn’t act. The worm had no way of knowing what conditions lay ahead for it. Its a simple worm. Its for the most part brainless, eyeless, slimy, spineless “worm”. What should I do? Why should I act? So should I pick him up and move him?
I’ve gladly terminated the lives of hundreds of red worms and night crawlers in the past; feeding them to large mouth bass and blue gill: all for sport and occasional food without thinking about it And I will again with out thinking about it.
Why should this one be different? I could scoop up some dirt, give it a nice home until I get a chance to go fishing again at which time I would decide when he died at my pleasure. But why should I care if it died? Its just more goo on the sidewalk that I have to avoid on my walk.
But today, the worm’s long and winding road was its to choose. The sky was gray. There was the possibility for more rain in which case, the worm might survive. Sprinklers could kick on and give it the nourishment it needed to complete its journey, so if I interfered I could prevent it from reaching its goal.
I knew not its destination. Any attempt for me to relocate the worm would interfere with its destiny; a destiny that I had no business interfering with. When fishing, the worm’s destiny is as bait. I wasn’t fishing today.
I let the worm go on its own journey. I don’t know if it made it or not or if it will be something I have to avoid on my next walk. It did rain later, so I can hope the worm made it to where it was heading. Maybe it will grow to be a great lure for a crappie or a large mouth bass some day or it will have offspring that will continue to work the soil so our grass can grow scrubbing the air so we can breath.
So the dilemma: save its life so it could benefit us down the road, or not play God and let nature take its course. I’ll never know if my decision was right or wrong: Inaction verses action.
But it was its journey, not mine to dictate, so with that thought, I can live with my choice today.
However, I need to go fishing.