leaving the machine
When you’re young you’re a lot like a fly buzzing and banging against the window, longing to get out.
Sorry if I had to go pull out Alaska to make my point, but if I would have picked a state where in February it might be temperate enough for a fly to survive I know some of you would have immediately tried to invalidate the premise.
That’s the fly in you. Buzzing and banging against a window in February in Alaska.
I don’t resent it, in fact it might explain why you’re here reading this now.
It might be the only reasonable explanation.
The truth is that I write a lot about youth because I miss it. Not so much dreading the physical ramifications of getting older, but having lost the sense of wonder that comes with being young.
You miss it to.
I want to be the fly at the window, shaking my six fists (or whatever their legs end in) at the injustice of my confinement. Completely ignorant of the cold on the other side of the glass. Ignorant of what the beautiful white stuff covering everything as far as my five eyes can see really is.
I was going to add “Ignorant of the polar bears lurking outside” (going overboard with metaphors being one of the mental ramifications of getting older) until I realized that flies don’t have anything to fear from polar bears.
And if your inner-fly is buzzing and banging about that being a hell of a metaphor, I’m going to have to concede that one.
But the cold will get them/you just the same.
Insects don’t have pain receptors the way vertebrates do so they won’t feel a thing. They don’t have emotions so they won’t be burdened with the knowledge of their imminent demise. They will simply fly until they stop. Click. Off.
Is that a pang of jealousy I/you feel?
In the spring, even in Alaska, even with polar bears rummaging through the garbage, there will be a whole new batch of flies because their larva can survive temperatures as low as -112°F.
And maybe they will find their way into a house and see where their parents once flew. Imagine them doing it and resenting them for it, then trying to figure out why.
So it might be a bit late for you and I, but there is hope for ‘us.’
I have often been asked what I think about at the moment of take-off. Of course, no pilot sits and feels his pulse as he flies. He has to be part of the machine. If he thinks of anything but the task in hand, then trouble is probably just around the corner.