Several years ago during a ping-pong game in Moab, Utah, I saw one of the strangest sights of my life. It won’t sound like much, but it affected me in ways I still don’t understand.
During summertime in Moab, the flies in my grandparent’s backyard swarmed. From tiny little fruit flies to huge horseflies, there was always some multi-eyed little monster bouncing off your face or careening into your sweat.
But not this fly.
It sat on the concrete about ten feet away. As I watched, it started walking toward me. I’d never seen a fly sit still for more than one second, and I’d never seen one walk for more than an inch.
This fly trudged across the entire patio and stopped when it reached the toe of my shoe. It was perfectly still.
My arms broke out in goosebumps. Unnerved, I watched the fly while my ping-pong opponent yelled for the ball.
I raised my toe off the ground. The fly walked under my foot, all the way back to my heel. I didn’t know what to do. I sat there for perhaps a minute, for once in my life hoping that I could talk sense to a fly…to help it see reason.
I realized my heart was pounding. It reminded me of a night driving through a neighborhood in Nevada when a dog appeared in the road ahead of me. Its glittering eyes and unexpected presence in the dark threw me out of my driving hypnosis and I screamed. There was nothing to scream about, but I couldn’t get my heart to stop pounding.
This was very similar.
Then someone yelled so loud in the backyard that my foot came down reflexively and that was the end of that fly.
I couldn’t shake the thought that I had just seen an insect commit suicide.
I suppose it is possible that the fly was not clinically depressed, but I have never had another answer. It was one of the most unnatural things I’ve ever witnessed. It was an event, however tiny, that was completely out of the realm of my experience.
Does this sound insane? I know I’m making a lot of it, but the fact that I’ve never been able to forget it tells me that it is probably worth thinking about.
I don’t know.
Maybe the lesson is that even flies get the blues. If that’s the case, I’m not sure how I feel about it. I can’t adopt every stray fly I see.
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