THE BUG ON THE WINDSHIELD
Once a bug threw itself at a car’s windshield with brio. The bug hadn’t been much to look at in its prime, and it didn’t make much of a splat when it hit the glass, but both of these concerns had been beside the point in the bug’s mind. For it was persuaded that this choice of end would have an éclat all its own when viewed in the larger scheme of things. In a world where countless bugs suffered countless meaningless deaths every second, this one would stand out for its resolute display of will! Why let mere chance have the final say in life, as had seemed to be the case with the bug’s own ever since it began? An existence ruled by circumstance, at the mercy of luck or accident, why should that be one’s fate? Always finding yourself at the right place at the right time or the wrong place at the wrong time but rarely by plan or purpose wasn’t much of a life. Why have wings to fly if they were yours to command only in the most limited sense? The bug had pondered its act of pure will at length. Simply “to be” wasn’t much of a claim to significance when “not to be” wouldn’t have proved much different. Let others busy themselves in repetitious, pointless dealings they believed gave their brief stay here a reason. Ever fearful a mishap might befall them before their shining moment arrived and render everything for naught, they told themselves they were in control when in truth they were tossed this way and that by the slightest shift in breeze. Such a life was not for this bug, not anymore. When it had first spotted the distant car’s headlights breaking the horizon and advancing down through the dusk towards it, elation had welled within its thorax. All the time spent at the mercy of outside forces, with any serious attempt at self-determination continually denied, faded into irrelevance. Whatever might be remembered of the bug would rest on the next few minutes and the onrushing lights. Even if life signified nothing, death needn’t, the bug was now certain. How you faced that last outrage, that ultimate denial of individual desires and merit, would count in your favor or against you. A cowardly dodge to be spared the inevitable would mark you forever, but a defiant stand against the lot you’d been dealt, doomed though it might prove, must surely place you among those who transcended their end! To the bug, the approaching headlights offered perhaps the only opportunity it would ever have to escape the ignoble contingency of its life, to make a declaration once and for all against the limits of being. Others might go on as if their self-delusions were reality, but tonight one bug would take it upon itself to defy life’s humiliations and defeats. One bug would escape the futile round and fashion its own heroic destiny tonight! Its own glorious explosion of the will into eternity, into myth! None of these thoughts, to be sure, ran through the mind of the carwash attendant as he listlessly dragged his squeegee over the windshield later and flicked the scrapings away.
Copyright © 2020 by Geoffrey Grosshans