it was still dark. Somewhere around 5:45 this morning and after throwing some cold water on my face, I knew it was time to let the kitties out from their overnight prison.
Typical cats, they behave as if they have been locked up for years; screaming in anticipation as I struggle with the keys to the office door. And barely sixty seconds later, they are back inside again screaming at me for being a little late this morning.
I exaggerate slightly, but it’s a morning routine that I love and I get some lovely cuddles and scent-rubs as I clean out their food dishes and fill them with some breakfast fare.
Now that Daisy has her five kittens in the studio part of my office, my access to water for cleaning the dishes is really courtesy of an outside hose.
And as I stumbled through the darkness, this morning, I noticed a “shape” on top of one of the tires on my car. I genuinely had no idea what it was until I grabbed the camera and took a couple of quick pics.
Flashing on a night creature must be dreadfully scary to them so I didn’t want to take more than two or three shots. So, forgive the fact that the two shots at the end of this blog are far from perfect. After the first one, I could see he was a bug but I didn’t want to flash directly in his face as it wouldn’t be fair. So, I got what I got, ladies and gentlemen.
When dawn had finally broken, he was long gone. So, I looked closely at the pics that I got and marveled at this amazing little creature. I can see his pupil in one of the pictures looking at me and so it is fair to surmise that he was more than aware of my presence.
Not everybody is going to have a wondrous response to such a creature, I know and some run screaming into the brightness at the first sign of a creature with an exoskeleton. So, if you are one of those people, don’t bother checking out the images at the end of this.
For those who don’t know, he/she is a Cicada and their family is responsible for many of the sounds of summer that we in the southern climes experience as we walk among the trees.
At the first mention of “bug” a very dear friend of mine breaks into song, with refrains of “the ugly bug ball” quickly overtaking our conversation. It was a song from a Disney movie in 1963 and really harped on the notion that a bug might feel as ugly as we see them to be. In fact, Walt Disney didn’t want to include it in the movie until it was explained to him that “bugs don’t know they are ugly”.
And that my friends, is what started my mind today down the corridor of ugliness.
Ugly is a human concept. Of that I have no doubt. We behave as if our definition of beauty is the gold standard by which all else can be measured.
It is a truly conceited notion that allows us to rate each other out of ten and to describe some creatures as being so ugly that we have to recoil.
I reject the concept of ugliness. At least on the level of what we see when we look at something or someone. The old adage of judging a book by its cover comes to mind when we make instant decisions on those around us (human or not).
Furthermore it is a mechanism by which many people assess and judge. It can even be a critical element of determination of hire/don’t hire, love/don’t love, listen to/ignore.
It can even be a determination of let live or kill as we step on a cockroach but cradle a butterfly.
I for one, see beauty in every creature. There may be some that scare me, but that doesn’t make them less beautiful. Just makes me less understanding. There are definitely those that I have difficulty in holding in my hand, but again that is a reflection on my squeamishness and not their beauty.
There is a wonderful moment before Burl Ives begins to sing that song to a little eight-year old kid. The kid says “but he has such an ugly face” to which the Burl Ives character replies “he might be thinking the same about you”.
It is very much a case of beauty being in the eye of the beholder.
So, yes, on one level I have real difficulty accepting that any creature is ugly.
Ugliness is a concept that humans created and while it was originally intended as a means to demean or degrade the physicality of those we encounter along life’s path, the real ugliness in humans is far from obvious.
We all know by now that beauty at best is skin deep and therefore quite frivolous. Ugliness on the other hand is truthfully more related to character and therefore of much more significant substance.
I know some truly beautiful people. I have been truly blessed in life with some of the most remarkable souls on the planet. Their beauty shines out in how they treat others, how they treat creatures, and how they treat the planet.
I have learned so much from them that my life has warmed while basking in their light.
Ugly people that I have crossed paths with are filled with hate, disdain for the less fortunate, disregard for those in need, and eternally self-focused.
Some of those that I have encountered have been very pleasing to the eye and to all intents and purposes seen as living “the beautiful life”. Some have even been wildly successful, at least in riches and career.
Outside our circles, we can more easily spot ugliness. Narcissistic rich that grow richer off the backs of the working poor. Leaders that sow hate and division in order to play to their racist base. Child molesters, Spouse abusers. Prolific cheaters.
The list is long.
This is where true ugliness resides in life.
And we are absolutely right to recoil from it. Ugliness like that should cause a revulsion within our souls that makes us want to have no part of such a person. There must be a gag-reflex that makes us want to vomit when we encounter hate, cruelty, narcissism, or whichever brand of ugliness we encounter.
When we tolerate or enable such behavior, we too become ugly.
When it comes to hate and racism, there are not “good people on both sides”. There is only good and bad. Beauty and ugliness.
There is no excuse for ugliness. It is a failing and unlike the poor cockroach, it most definitely needs to be stepped on.
Just a thought …