Thursday, 7 May 2015

I Know Why the Trapped Fly Beats its Wings

The fly was caught in the spider's web. It fought and fought as the bonds grew tighter, wiggling and jiggling its blue-black body and rapidly blinking its crystalline wings faster than an eyelid. A predatory spider, the colour and size of a walnut, observed from an outer circle; its spindly legs dancing the quickstep and communicating to the human eye its indecision: a gallop towards the entangled bait into a sudden waltz-like rotation, then a hasty retreat to its lookout station. The web jerked like a trampoline with these motions; its intricate threads gleaming in the deepening rays of the mid-afternoon sun. Gold spun for a fine emperor's cloth.
Stitched into this light-visible fabric, the trapped fly continued its struggle, its stamina waning. Its glass wings fluttered feebly now and its bound body shivered. It frequently paused in-between attempts to prevent itself from becoming a permanent knot in the spider's pattern; a lull which had become a part of its sad music: the harp strings temporarily silenced, then plucked with juddering violence.
The spider meanwhile couched in cool shadow where the sun could not touch and waited. Remarkably static, then a slight twitch when the conducting fly made its music died. Was this it? Had death come to it? No, there was a minuscule shudder. Not yet. Abide... An insect, as am I, that knows more freedom than I needs to know what it is to suffer. We were not born equal; the freedoms nature bestowed on us can be taken away by any creature in the animal kingdom, including man.
The fly might interject here and ask: Why? For what reason?
The spider might reply: For survival. Borne by natural instinct, desires or cruelty. It could be revengeful, due to jealously or confused with love. No creature is as truly free as they think, and all are capable of restricting themselves or imposing those limits on others. This sphere is a turbulent place, and therefore our freedoms get squashed so that we can learn.
A very wise spider you might remark, but the fly would be bewildered.
Learn what? he might think, but be too drained to raise the actual question.
If somehow the spider heard this dying thought, its response to this might be: To learn to simply be. To know who and what we are, and our place in it, which very few human creatures ever achieve. To know our own limits and that what we consider free can be hurtful, especially when those freedoms are imposed or brutally snatched away. Freedoms can be feared as much as oppression; choice is not always a liberation. It can be destructive. All livings things are capable of setting snares or falling into them, just like you did.
I imagine if this answer had been given, the fly might be mollified or alarmed by the spider's speech. But what do I know! I'm just a human pupil interpreting what I think I see; imagining a dialogue, a conversation between two adversaries. Two polar opposites: one who is attached permanently to a safety wire and one who always takes risks, but has no back up. Is it better to wait and contemplate, or throw caution to the wind?
The contortions of the fly had tightened its cocoon of silken strands under the spider's watchful presence and the gaze of the cloistered human eye from inside its apartment. Intense golden shafts dissolved all shadows on that side of the building; a floodlight on the fly and its spectators. The fly immobilised, mummified like a mouldy, wrinkled raisin. It had not surrendered to the spider but to its inescapable situation. The now dead fly had tried and tried to beat its wings.

Picture Credit: Spider Web, post-impressionism, artist unknown