Friday, August 10, 2018

A moth flew into my tea last night.


I'd seen it fluttering around out the corner of my eye on the right-hand side, as I was working on social media posts for the next morning. The Internet had been slow all day, to the point that I couldn't even do my side job of watching an episode of anime to prep a Twitter post. I gave up and did what I could. I was tired already — insomnia leading to nightmares leading to oversleeping.

I can't wake up from nightmares. Paul asked me if it's the same for good dreams. I said no, I'd mind a lot less if it were.

I had another kettle of hot water ready, so I was going to swig the last big of cooling tea in my cup and then swap it out. There was something floating in it, dark and still. It was a moth. Likely the moth.

Shame. I actually kind of like moths. I rescue them from the tight folds of the curtains over the den's back door, where they tend to squeeze away without realizing they'll get trapped. In return they'll likely chew up my sweaters. But whatever.

It lay there on the surface, drifting and completely still. On the one hand, I had to laugh at myself for not noticing a moth taking a header into the teacup literally two inches from my left hand. On the other, I was a bit sad. It couldn't have been there long.

I picked up the cup to go splash the tea, moth and all, out the front door of my office. As I did, the moth twitched one wing. I wasn't sure whether it was me jostling the teacup or if it still had some life in it, so I dipped a finger in the lukewarm tea and tried to scoop the moth up. Nothing at first. Then a frantic flapping of wings, as though the sudden realization that it had help was enough to make it want to have another go at getting free.


It fluttered frantically as I scooped it up under two fingers, then climbed up on a knuckle and began drying its wings. It was a run-of-the-mill cabbage moth, a little darker than I usually see (though that could be because it was wet). It arched its abdomen up as it perched on my finger and dried itself off. I intended to take it to the door of the shop so it could get back outside, but it took off before I could.

I dumped out the tea and made some fresh.

A few minutes later, it flew back, headbutting my hand before taking off again. I let myself entertain the idea that it was giving me a little boop of gratitude. In all likelihood, it was probably just lost.

I do wonder if we do that ourselves. Drop in the drink and realize that, without someone reaching out, there's nothing we can do. When someone does reach out, we scramble. All we need is the first boost out. The rest, we can handle under our own steam.

Animals and insects can't ask for a hand. We can. We don't. We don't because we're trained not to. We have to be completely self-sufficient. And yeah, there are some areas of our life where we sort of have to learn and be ready to handle things on our own in a pinch. Without some degree of self-sufficiency, we won't get far, or have the confidence to.

But we have the power to ask for the hand up. For the five seconds to just lift us out. Not a great deal of emotional lifting. Just the moment to give us a foothold so we're not drowning in our own emotions. And we can do the rest. We just don't realize we can until we have the foothold.

Even animals ask for help. There are stories everywhere of deer, birds, foxes, and feral cats running up to the nearest human to rescue their young from a ditch or get something unstuck from them. Animals that can't use words run to the nearest apex predator for help. We have words and are terrified to use them for fear of looking weak.

Yesterday morning I told my grandfather "I'm sad." Two words. We talked. I knew why. But even though I know better, the world leans gently on me with the idea that admitting to sadness, sitting down and needing to just cry for a few minutes and say "I feel this way," is a weakness. It's not.

I'm not un-sad now. But I'm better than I was. I'm relieved. I'm out of the drink. I'm still drying off.

I didn't see that moth drop into my tea two inches away from me. Your friends can't always see when you drop, either. It's hard. But try. It's not the same as being an "attention whore" — demanding attention is not the same as needing a moment of emotional support.

Really. Give yourself that gift. Don't be me. Don't be the fool who needs to build an entire metaphor out of a bug falling into her tea just to realize it's okay to talk to people.


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