Yesterday I was working on a painting in my dusty garage. I was not listening to music so I could hear the wood bending sound of the roof sinking towards the ground. The garage was so dusty that I had difficulty keeping dust specks off of the tip of my nose and off of the canvas upon which I was working. A fly hovered annoyingly around my face and ears. There are few things that bug (no pun intended) me more than the frenetic sounds that a flying fly makes. The only living creature that I occasionally obliterate with magazines is the fly.
As I was searching for a magazine (which, I was going to use as a bat while pretending that the fly was the ball) I noticed that the fly was stuck in a metallic bowl filled with yellow paint. I was using this paint so I needed to get the fly out (I did consider somehow incorporating the fly into the painting somehow). I used the tip of my paintbrush to scoop the fly out of the glob of yellow paint. At first the fly which was now completely colored yellow was not moving. I assumed that it had either suffocated in the paint or died from the toxic fumes.
I went back to working on my painting and enjoyed not hearing any fly sounds. Occasionally I would hear the wood ceiling bend but other than this there was silence. As I was gradually allowing myself to fall away into the flow of the painting I again heard the annoying sound of the fly. I instinctually went to grab the magazine but as I did so I noticed that it was the yellow paint covered fly buzzing around. I suddenly found myself not wanting to obliterate the fly. A creature that had annoyed me to no ends suddenly became a work of art right in front of my eyes. Watching it fly around in the garage in all of its magnificent yellowness was a far greater aesthetic experience than any experience I had ever had looking at art. I was in awe.
As I watched the fly buzz around and around I said to myself, “now this is incredible modern art.” Like a man in his favorite art gallery, I spent the rest of the afternoon spellbound by the yellow fly. Since I am an avid supporter of the modern arts, as it was getting dark and the yellow fly was slowing down, I decided that it would only be fair to open the garage door and allow the yellow fly to go free.
There has been an epidemic of flies around my house. What used to be my favorite thing to do, sit in my backyard and sun bathe while reading a book, is no longer something I am able to do peacefully. Flies flock to me as if I had some kind of magnetic appeal. They crawl around on my chest, my neck and a few have found their way into my various orifices. So last week I had enough. I bought a fly trap. As much as I try to abstain from killing any other species I figured the world could do with a few less flies. What was the big deal? I mean they don’t think and feel, right? I hung the fly trap up in my backyard, which looked like a plastic iv bag filled with brown-ish water. I used one of my shoe laces to hang it.
After a week of hanging in my backyard the fly trap became a fowl sewer of fly corpses. The smell was putrid and noxious, almost too much for the human nose to ingest. So today my wife made me take it down. Inside worm like insects were beginning to grow out from the more than twenty thousand fly corpses that were contained in the plastic bag (I know the number of flies in the bag only because the fly trap was filled to the rim with dead flies and on the front of the fly trap it says that it catches over 20,000 flies). I put on plastic gloves, wore a mask over my nose and used a scissors to cut the fly trap down. Once I had it in my hands I walked it over to the trash can. As I was walking I could not help but look at the massive amount of flies that were deceased inside. A few flies were still alive but soon they would be dead as well. I was reminded of the holocaust and as quickly as the association came into my mind- the fly trap disappeared into the trash can.
I took off my gloves and the mask. I put the scissors back in its rightful place and then went and sat in the wood chair in my backyard. I watched as a few flies landed on my arm and a few more hovered around some of my dogs excrement that I was yet to pick up (my wife has been giving me a hard time about not picking up the dog excrement on a daily basis, since I promised her that I would when we got the dog). As I was staring at the flies I wondered if I would be entered into the fly history books for all the flies that I was responsible for killing in my backyard? Would flies that are yet to be born one day view me in the same way that I view Hitler? A chill ran up my spine and I was suddenly aware of what I had done. What started out as a simple act may cause me to be known in the fly world as a genocidal maniac. I have always wanted to be remembered for my writings or doing something of value in my life- but now I may be remembered as a man who murdered thousands of flies in a fly trap! I took a deep breath and stopped my mind from entertaining this horrible thought. I got up, cleaned the dog poop and then went inside.
I am trapped in this body that seems to be changing or aging at a rate that I can not control. With a life span of three to five days- there is so much to be done. Since my birth I have been happily confined to this labyrinthine Victorian home that has harbored generations of my family. We spend our days buzzing through ancient hallways made out of pine wood and we tan ourselves up against thin glass windows filled with sunlight and heat. The windows reflect our infernal images back upon our dilated eyes revealing an ugliness that I am just starting to come to terms with- and I am already three days old. My mother always told me that if I did not come to terms with my image in the window by the time I was three days old- I would never find peace.
With two days left to live there is so much to accomplish (I am confident that I will live to the ripe old age of five days…maybe even six). So many rooms to fly around in, so many walls to investigate. The home in which I was raised is filled with various plants and antiquated furniture so enjoyable to fly upon that I gladly forget that more than half of my life has been lived. All of the pressures involved in being a fly (the pressure to reproduce before my old age sets in and the pressure of flying enough in my life so that I can die with a felling of fulfillment) seems to become mitigated by the pleasure of resting upon a silk arm chair or an aloe plant and reciting the verse of Emily Dickinson. If you had told me that being a fly would involve such a great desire to do and see things I would have thought you were nuts. When I was young I had always thought that flies were anxious little creatures with a spasmodic will and a pestersome bzzzzz. Never could I have imaged the wonder filled world of the fly I have found out about in my later years. The beauty of flying naked and weightless through long hallways and landing upon warm afternoon windows. The beauty of crawling along ceilings and landing on the heads of humans. Tears come to my eyes when I think about how much there is to live for.
I keep to myself most of the day perpetuating no rumors about fellow flies. I spend a lot of time sunbathing upon the guest bedroom window. There I can be left alone, freed from the frenetic activity of fellow flies. I can clean my nimble legs and antenna and design ways in which I will fly to the moon on my last day of life. I am able to dream of other worlds where spirit flies still live and roam freely through hallways and furnished homes. I imagine my ancestors watching over me as I make my way through out the various rooms. Being a fly requires a strong constitution- when you are allotted only five days to live, the fear of death can be crippling, but even more so the awe of life can become overwhelming.
I make my way alone most of the time. It is true that my only purpose for living is not simply to spend my days in such a perplexed state of awe. I have my biological obligations to fulfill. The need to perpetuate my species weighs upon my soul to such a degree that I am not able to spend the days in mindless contemplation like I once did when I was young. I feel as if there is something more important that I need to be tending to. Before I come upon my final day- it is pertinent that I find a way to bring forth another me, a next of kin. Through this process of reproduction, us flies find immortality. This is how we make sense of our three to five days of life. We reproduce, and through our children become immortal. Like my father always told me, “A hen is only an egg’s way of making another egg.”
Even though I have been hard at work searching for a female fly to mate with- I have come up empty today. Night is almost upon us and after dark I have a tendency to stay put for the rest of the evening. I find particles of food (usually cat feces which I love) in various places and then rest in a safe spot until the heat of the sun returns to the windows. Tomorrow will be the fourth day of my life- what most flies refer to as the early evening of a flies life. I will spend the day searching for a mate- and into the evening if I must. If the midnight hour falls and I am yet to find the one who will give my child a chance to be born, I am willing to resign myself to a life spent alone, in awe- upon a window. Others may think that I have failed in my purpose (or utility) but I am willing to accept the responsibility of not living up to others expectations. It is a small price to pay for the hours of wonder and solitary pleasure I have experienced being a fly.