Saturday, September 10, 2011

Grasshopper Massacre: WWJD?

This afternoon I needed exercise and a change of work scene as I assemble the various “Teaching Philosophy” statements that each emphasize a different aspect of my literary scholar multiplicity. I had just wrapped up my very literary Americanist persona and was ready to begin my Modernist one when I left.

So, laptop, notebook, and pens in bag, helmet on head, I bicycled to the Trout Run Trail and headed out of town. Along a prairie stretch of the trail, the pavement suddenly became a slightly bumpier than 2-Dimensional mural of a grasshopper massacre. Dozens and dozens of live grasshoppers springing away as I approached, and as many or more grasshopper carcasses in various stages of decay, some flattened and many giving a slight texture to the tarmac-canvas.

One sprung up and clung to my jeans. Something in the position of its limbs was a visual analog to my daughter Sofia holding on to Papa or Mama. Nearly simultaneous a question popped up in mind: WWJD? But J for Jains not for Jesus. What would I do in this situation if I were a Jain? Plus, I’m now seeing this one grasshopper as delicate and trusting as my own daughter.

So, I slowed down. Not just slow: So slow that I could readily avoid hitting a single living grasshopper as I progressed through this horrid-Jackson-Pollock space. Bicycling for me arouses a lovely blank-mind flow, but that is usually at faster speeds. Today, I got the same gladness (in the Wordsworthian sense of “glad”) by bicycling almost unsustainably slowly but with eyes rapidly attending to each of the many lives I would not end.

Post Script: I stopped at a picnic bench near a rapids next to the Trout Hatchery and drafted/revised my modernist persona in a joyful spirit, affected by this little tableau, like Robert Frost after checking out that spider, that moth, and that anomalous heal-all on his own journey with non-human animals.

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