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Interview with a beetle

Recently a beetle reminded me how lucky I was.
‘You keep forgetting how lucky you are, my dear,’ said the Beetle, clicking its mandibles.
‘I guess so,’ I admitted.
‘Educated at Oxford, lovely wife, lots of friends of all ages, a mostly fine job for the last 20 years and a house in a good area of a desirable English town, generally healthy most of the time…’ the beetle ticked off the list on her legs, which considering she had six took some time.
‘OK, you don’t need to make me feel guilty!’ I said feeling a little bit persecuted by this somewhat pompous giant arthropod.
‘Well, shouldn’t you?’ Beetle continued mercilessly,’ I mean what are you doing for other people who are less fortunate than you? Really, I mean, not just those charity donations? Take it from a beetle… Life is a struggle. You’re very, very lucky. So stop complaining.’
Now, this of course this “happened” in my head (well, lots of strange things happen in my head but I wouldn’t recommend you go there).
For the record though the beetle was kind of real – it was a female stag beetle I thankfully saw just in time to avoid treading on it during a run – and the conversation was one that went through my mind as I continued plodding on.
The beetle was engaged in a great journey, and her close shave with death was while she was in sight, finally, of its goal –that being the safe haven of the hedge on other side of the suburban road.
I guess for a beetle that journey is a bit like attempting the Pennine way -although on my one failed attempt at that I do not recall things trying to eat or squash me every step of the way so the analogy is a bit weak.
Incidentally stag beetles walk pretty slowly too, which may seem odd as they do have wings. But if you have ever seen one of these beetles trying to fly you will understand why it wants to walk, they are possibly the only animal that looks less comfortable in the air than a duck.
Life is hard when you are a beetle (as an aside, there seem to be a lot of stag beetles about this year which I think is not a bad thing at all for one of our most spectacular insects).
It was important for me to remember I am actually very lucky and blessed because the next day on my lunchtime run something went ping in my calf – I don’t know if it is a ligament or a muscle – and n practical terms it matters little.
All I knew was that the run was now over and would be for some time until, hopefully, it can heal completely. For me, it is a minor personal disaster. I have found running essential for my fitness and for peace of mind, nothing gets me out of a grump faster. Now that I cannot run at all for a while at least, I can feel the weight piling on and potential for getting increasingly irritable (sorry wonderful wife).
Hopefully it will heal quickly and I will at least be able to jog round the Great North Run in September this year, but any dreams of a fast time are out the window now.
But I fully hope to be back in working order in a few weeks and in the meantime be a lot less childish about this relatively little things that make life more interesting. I have a very good friend who may never walk again due to an accident and in that light any frustration I have has to be seen as petty complaining. I think for things that are upsetting you there are similar things that can also gently or violently ground you back in the true reality of things.
So I’m going to use that beetle as a reminder of how lucky I am. Which is entirely appropriate as stag beetle pace is about as fast as I can manage at the moment.


One thought on “Interview with a beetle

  1. I really enjoy these thoughts, Graham, as often have similar thoughts myself. Keep them coming, please!

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