The Bug in the Line

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Going in for jury duty, there was a line to get through the security checkpoint. As we did the zombie shuffle through the winding rat maze, I noticed a tiny little roach struggling to find its way out of the gauntlet of shambling feet. The girl in front of me, watching only the people in front of her, rounded the corner as the confused cockroach skittered frantically around in circles trying to avoid being stepped on. It zigged when it should have zagged, the girl stumbled a little and shifted position to keep her balance, and her foot came down right on top of the poor little thing.

I thought that maybe it wasn’t dead. The girl was wearing soft-soled sneakers, after all, and roaches are remarkably resilient. The line shuffled forward. She shuffled forward. And the squashed remains of the bug remained unmoving on the floor.

Deep down in my heart, part of me knows (or at least suspects) that it was just this thing that happened and it has no meaning at all and no lesson to teach other than what I give it. The bigger part of me thinks that just because I find a lesson or a meaning in it, doesn’t make it any less of a lesson. If it made me think that there was something there I needed to learn (or at least think about), then that means that I was in a place — in my mind, and in my life — where I needed to think this thing through.

So is there a take away from this story? A moral or a lesson? I’m not entirely certain.

Maybe it has something to do with the randomness of the universe — the sheer chance that put the bug in that spot at that time when the girl stumbled. Maybe it’s about the dangers of fear and indecisiveness — the roach had a couple of opportunities before the girl ever got there to get out of the danger zone, but it panicked and just ran around in circles. Maybe the lesson is about awareness, because the girl didn’t see the bug and the bug didn’t see the foot coming down.

Personally, I’d like to think it was a combination of all three. Life seems to be equal parts chance, opportunity, and whether we notice these things and what we end up doing with them. So, to me, the moral to the tale of The Bug in the Line is that it’s time for me to pay attention to the things the universe is throwing at me, and not let fear and indecision keep me from taking the opportunity to get to a better place.

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