THE HUMMING BIRD
Once a hummingbird worried about its personal space. Any intrusion upon that portion of the globe reserved in its mind for itself alone caused the hummingbird considerable anxiety. Confronted by the unwelcome presence of another, it might dart about in a flustered manner or, going to the other extreme, halt in midflight and pull its personal space in around it as tightly as possible. Weren’t others aware of how unwelcome their mere existence was by comparison to the hummingbird’s? Given such annoyances, the hummingbird was almost never seen taking public transportation. Whenever it found itself with no option but to do so, it would dart to any unoccupied seat and place whatever it might be carrying on the next seat to prevent others from getting too close or, if it had nothing to block intrusion in this way, simply sprawl as best it could in the space it occupied and pretend to be sleeping. A busload of hummingbirds spread out one to a row of seats was not an uncommon sight on some routes. Rush hour obviously posed particular challenges in this regard. Caught in the sweaty press of strangers, the hummingbird often felt itself on the verge of passing out from claustrophobia and only found relief from such torment by leaning its head against the windowpane and imagining the expansive, cooling freshness a sudden view of the Rockies might bring. The hummingbird’s smartphone was another refuge from unwanted contact, one it relied upon to get it from any “here” to any “there” fully buffered by earphones against the in-between of the journey. With the volume turned up all the way, there was little chance the irritating presence of others would encroach upon its privacy. Another defense the hummingbird never went anywhere without was its bottle of personal water. To think of drinking from a public fountain was more disgusting even than sharing the close air of the crowd. The stuff streaming down one’s throat, who knew where it came from? What contamination might it be spreading to every cell in one’s body? But one’s own water was different. Plus, it was all yours. You didn’t have to share. If only everything could be like that, the hummingbird would sigh. Bottled, packaged, shrink-wrapped, airtight, sanitized, that would be heaven. You wouldn’t have to risk coming into contact with any of the thousand and one things that caused you distress or weakened the safeguards of your inner comfort zone. They’d be as good as nonexistent. It would just be you and your personal space: a refuge from the vexing brunt of life, a private little world with you hovering there right at its center. The hummingbird was convinced this private little world would do just fine, thank you. No need for anything else. Because the hummingbird was, as hardly needed pointing out, already very small by nature.
Copyright © 2020 by Geoffrey Grosshans