Born That Way
Yesterday, I went out on my patio to enjoy the sunshine that had finally appeared after a few days of rain.
I noticed that on the patio stones were six little worms. I am no biologist, but I pride myself on being an expert anthropomorphologist, so I figured the worms were doing the same thing I was doing – basking in the warm sun.
However, I also know from my vast experience of childhood worm-watching, that these worms would very quickly shrivel and die in the sun.
Why do they do that? Put themselves in such dire circumstances? Again, I am no biologist but I have been given to understand that worms breathe through their skin, and when it rains and the soil is completely saturated, they come out of the ground so they don’t suffocate. And they can move pretty freely when the ground is wet.
But the ground – especially the sidewalk (and my patio stones) dry very quickly, and then they can’t move. And they are stuck.
The poor worms don’t understand that.
They don’t have the brain power. As a matter of fact, earthworms only have about 300 neurons in their whole nervous system. Even an ant has 250,000. Cats have 760 million. Dogs have 2 billion (sorry, cat lovers). And human beings have 86 billion.
So worms are at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to reasoning skills.
And consider the bell curve of intelligence. If worms have a bell curve like human beings, just think about the poor worms on the wrong end of the bell curve. No wonder they ended up on the patio. And it isn’t their fault. They were born that way.
If we can feel a little compassion for the brain-challenged earthworm, let’s spare a little for human beings too.
That bell curve.
Because you are reading this essay, I am guessing that you are at least in the middle of the curve. You actually read the word ‘anthropomorphologist’ – which you probably understood even though I totally made it up.
So if you are at least in the middle of the curve – or maybe even on the high end, since you are smart enough and patient enough to read about worms – just consider all the people in the world in the lower half.
They struggle, I think. They haven’t got nearly the intelligence of you or me, and yet, just like you and me, they have to get through childhood, find jobs, raise a family, learn how to get where they need to go, buy stuff, prepare meals, and pay their bills and their taxes.
And yet somehow they manage. With less intellectual resources, millions of people do okay. They live. They love.
Sometimes I am more in awe of the mentally-challenged person who cleans her house than I am of the genius who lives in a mess.
And we should be willing to cut some of those people a break. To help those on the lower end of the curve with a measure of financial help and as much education as we can give them. We can give them medical care and food assistance. We can be kind.
After all, we are the privileged ones – the ones to whom the world is not an unending mystery.
We should help.
And – back to the earthworm story:
I took a stick and picked up each little worm and gently put it back on the lawn. Even the one that I was too late to save. I scooped up his tiny body and gave him a soft spot in the grass as his final resting place.
Reincarnation could be a thing.
If I come back as a worm, I hope that Karma is kind.