Nancy Roman

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.

Who knows?

Reincarnation could be a thing.

If I come back as a worm, I hope that Karma is kind.

Have a Nice Yard





  1. A worm doesn’t need many neurons. It already knows how to be a worm. Karma may not always be kind, but it is fair and that’s not all bad.


    • You have a point on how many neurons a worm needs. It makes me even happier than humans have such enormous potential.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You are right – The meaning of anthropomorphologist was immediately understood – but I searched online anyway…
    Noun. anthropomorphology (uncountable) the attribution of human characteristics to God.
    anthropomorphology – Wiktionary

    Better to be anywhere on the Bell Curve – than in the Bell Jar 🙂


    • And a more recent definition includes giving human attributes to non-human animals.


    • Interesting definition. I have always understood “Anthropomorphic” to mean attributing human emotions/reactions to animals. Gonna have to do a little research now.


      • That is one definition, and it is how I am using it here..

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Leo has told me worms are fascinating creatures and I think he may be right

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hubby has looked up WIKI: list of animals by number of neurons.
    Fascinating stuff, and I got confused with the number of ‘0’s.
    Apparently the long finned pilot whale has 37,200,000,000, an African elephant has 250 billion, and a sea sponge has zero.
    As an aside, worms have always fascinated me in their movements!


  5. lydiaschoch

    This was a lovely post. I couldn’t agree with you more.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I resonate with looking at things from another’s point of view and appreciating what we take for granted. Thanks for the post.


  7. Love those worms, they’re so earthy!
    I do the same, even for gummies 🙂


    • Why not give the slimy guys a break?… doesn’t cost a thing.


  8. A psychologist friend once told me that flatworms can be trained, just as birds, chimps, dogs and other animals can be trained (even humans!), using positive and negative reinforcement. Don’t know if flatworms have more neurons than earthworms, but it’s interesting to think about.


    • It would be a tough sell on America’s Got Talent.


  9. I never knew that was why worms come out on the sidewalk when it rains. I’d always just assumed they were washed up! But I also rescue them whenever I can, as it seems so mean to just let them die on the sidewalk. And I agree completely…we do need to be kind to those who struggle, and to help them and honor their tenacity in coping with a world they don’t always understand.


    • Honor their tenacity – so well put! Thanks!


  10. angryvixen

    Reading your post made me feel good about myself. I used to think that my being good is a weakness because people use my weakness against me but the post you wrote made me believe that good people are still out there and a little compassion goes a long way.


    • Even if people use your goodness against you and take advantage of you, at the end of it all, you still have the advantage. Because you know you are good and kind and you can live with yourself.


  11. I’m pretty sure you have definitely stacked the karma deck in your favour. No worries for you.


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