Allegory of The Bug

Pretty much each morning about sunup I’m sitting on my favorite bench over at the plaza in the old adobe village of Mesilla. I hang out there drinking coffee that I got at Denny’s and trying to think up things to write to you. I’m getting to know the other regulars – a couple of ladies who come walking by with a sweet old dog; the guy who waters the grass; a group of bicyclists who gather here. A very nice woman who is trying to smile her way through her grief – she and I have begun telling our stories to each other.

So yesterday I’m sitting there trying to come up with something to write for you. I’ve got a thing on dualism I’m working on, but it’s gotten sticky. So I’m sitting there and a large bug comes walking out of the grass and is headed across the walk toward my bench. I’m wearing sandals and I don’t want this thing walking on my toes so I keep my eye on it. The bug – which I  take to be some version of a beetle – has this clumsy, lurching gait. At recurring intervals it just about falls on its nose. I’m thinking this is not a very good design; what could be the adaptive advantage of doing a face-plant every couple of seconds?

My new friend gets closer and now I see something that rubs out my evolutionary question. The bug has three legs on each side, and on one side one of the legs is messed up. On the left side the middle leg is broken off about half way up. So every time that leg’s turn comes around, the bug does a nose dive. It’s not a bad design at all; my friend has just taken some hits along the line.

The bug limps on by without coming near my toes. It continues on to the edge where the curb of the street is. It’s a narrow, brick street, but it’s got to be a mile across in bug terms. The only way forward is a sheer drop down the curb face into the street. As the bug goes over the edge, I’m thinking – Okay, this is curtains for the bug. But pretty soon the bug comes back into view, limping straight across the street. We are fortunate that at this hour there is very little traffic. The bug makes it to the other side. And at the other side there is the vertical wall of the other curb. This is not a climbing sort of bug. This is a plodding, limping bug that only knows enough to put one foot in front of the other. And now it’s in a rut that it can’t see and can’t climb out of. It staggers along the gutter, unknowing but sufficient. If it lasts until it gets to the corner, I think there’s a curb cutout where it might at least get out of the street.

Now, maybe you think that I’m going to tell you how I’m just like that bug.

But, no, that bug and I are not at all alike.

Sometimes a bug is just a bug.

I hurt my back last night. This morning I confessed it to my wife and now she’s looking at me all squinty-eyed. I hurt my back way back there and went around with it for about twenty years before I did anything about it. Got it straightened out with yoga, pretty much. But she’s been through it. We have a car now so we’re not on foot, but we’re still homeless and we’re supposed to go looking at houses today. She says, You can’t go looking at houses like this. And I say, As long as I don’t have to bend over to look at ’em, I’ll be fine.

And now for the embarrassing part. Please, please don’t tell anyone this. I have a real problem with this, but I’m trying to be up front with you, so… I hurt my back last night teaching yoga. I know. Ironic, huh. I’m new here and the class is a one-hour format and I’m used to an hour-fifteen or hour and a half. I’m still in my old groove and I haven’t adjusted. In fact, I’ve been off-balance ever since we got here because I can’t get a routine going. About all I can do is put one foot in front of the other and try to concentrate on the next five minutes. And now that I screwed my back, I’m having trouble even putting one foot in front of the other.

So I try to get the class through a good sequence and I know that I’m off. So I tighten up over that and I push. I don’t do the warm-up with them and I demonstrate the asanas on only one side and pretty soon one side is off, but I keep right on going. What else am I going to do? I feel my back go and so I start throwing in a lot of restorative stuff just in case and thank goddess I don’t see any of the students looking like they’re hurting. At the end of class I tell them they are beautiful, and they tell me it was a good class. They seem happy. Maybe I got away with it this time.

Teaching again tomorrow.

Just about out of my super duper, doctor-strength ibuprofen that my doctor-sister Panda Bear (not her real name) turned me on to.

Maybe they’d like some chair yoga.

And YOU thought this was going to be about me being like that bug!



10 responses to “Allegory of The Bug

  1. Dear Bug (just want to be clear that I am not writing to Bharat!), Soooo, if I were you I would watch out for just about everything right about now…love, another bug


  2. My mother told me about a guy who was a political prisoner somewhere in solitary confinement. He had a spider for company. He kept destroying the spider’s web out of a cold and detached scientific curiosity. The spider kept rebuilding the web as if it were his first effort.

    Pretty soon, the spider became the prisoner’s guru. He showed the prisoner how to approach each new day. And he showed the prisoner how to accept his dharma as a political prisoner who landed in jail. You just get on with it. You don’t look for alternatives when you’re doing what you were born to do.

    I don’t mean to anthropomorphise bugs, but the spider had its own cold and detached purpose. But I don’t think it was scientific. I think he was a master craftsman who had web-building in his bloodlines. Was he one-dimensional and lacking a human polymath’s diversity? Or was he one of those bugs who, in doing one thing well, evidences knowledge of the universal principle from which all arts, crafts and ancient sciences originate?

    These questions, yes, bug me to no end.


    • Yes, I’d even say embodiment of that universal principle – or manifestation of, as in all phenomena are manifestation of the universal. We top of the heap types can get awful caught up in our conceptualizing to the point of losing interest in the essential. Then along comes a spider spinning a web, saying – Yeah, I know you can name this, but can you do it? I think it would be healthy to every day let ourselves get brought down a peg by a bug.


  3. This is a cautionary tale for me. I too am shortening my Beginners class by 15 minutes. I guess I better leave in the warm-ups so I don’t throw out my back ha! sometimes the teacher needs to take care of her/himself. get better Bharat!


    • I always find it difficult to go shorter on the time. I get to operating between those familiar samskara curbs and it’s hard to do otherwise. For one thing – surprise – I like to talk to the class. I’ll have to eliminate my opening homily, I guess. Thanks for the comment, Karuna.


  4. Bharat, you completely cracked me up tonight with this post. Other than myself, you’re one of the few people I know who pays close attention to bugs and will move a worm out of harms way. Now THAT’S true compassion! This summer I went so far as to drive 1 hour to a specialized emergency clinic for a garter snake that had been run over, but was still alive and kicking (well so to speak). I miss a lot about you; your great selection of music and timing it right for our classes, your opening AND closing homilies, your warmth, kindness, being there for each and every one of us and telling us we are beautiful too. Now, don’t let this go to your head…okay! Just keep up with all the above, talk the class through and they’ll barely notice your back is out of whack. Oh, and use an ice pack for spasms and a little muscle relaxant wouldn’t be a bad idea either.


    • Our real estate agent (buying a house) recommended a chiropractor and he did the spinal cracker thing and now my back is good again. Our experience is that of life. And I feel most at home in the world when I don’t narrow life into one form or another and just experience it all as one. Maybe the same for you?


  5. I feel my inter-connectedness with all life, yes, I experience myself as one with all that is. Because of that, I feel deeply the destruction and the suffering we inflict on our fellow beings. I’ve been moving grasshoppers from my steps a lot these days and sometimes take a good look into their eyes. It’s amazing to look into the eyes of something so small and see it look back at you, with trust (or at least that’s what it seems like when it hangs out in your hand for a while). I’m glad I can feel this connection, even though I feel the pain too. Oh, I’m very glad indeed that the chiropractor has set you straight so quickly again.


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