Some days I get so rattled and frazzled and hurried. I get that way so much that I have to check the dryer twice to make sure the cat didn’t crawl in before I push the “start” button. It seems I always remember I forgot to put the clothes from the washer into the dryer the night before the morning I need what is in the washer. The problem is that the clothes have been in the washer, already washed for two or three days and so I have to re-wash them before I can dry them. Frazzling. The washer and dryer live in the scary basement. Most farmers have barn cats. I have basement cats. They catch mice like barn cats but they also catch frogs. They don’t eat the mice or frogs. They leave them right in front of the dryer to show me. Frazzling. I’m happy to report there have been no snakes yet this year. There have been numerous frog and mice funerals though.
Killing just isn’t much my thing. Killing makes me feel frazzled.
My dearest friend is just the opposite. She kills anything she doesn’t like. It’s funny we’re friends. That’s not gossip by the way. I say it to her nearly every morning. Yet I’m the one with the bear on my wall, the wolf rug, the badger, the raccoon, the deer and the poor longhorn steers horns. I’m even the one that has the skin of a sheep. I look at it and worry the poor thing must be cold somewhere. I walk by the deer hanging above the doorway to the next room and the taxidermied deer eyes make me feel ashamedly ashamed. No matter where I stand-the eyes follow me. I’ve stepped to the left and shimmied to the right. I wiggled back two steps, did the Hokey-Pokey and even played peek-a-boo. Those deer eyes follow my every move. Frazzling. I didn’t kill them but to a girl with a conscience it doesn’t matter.
The Science teacher made me sin. It’s one of the first things we learn as children. They teach us to pull worms apart. I looked like a girl but played like a redneck manly man. I caught frogs, crickets, grasshoppers and spiders and I pulled apart worms-lots and lots of worms. My little friend from childhood with the fun-to-say name, Becky Bartl, and I used to dig as many worms as we could. We shoveled the ground and picked them out until we had our small coffee cans filled with them. We’d sit in her back yard and dump all the worms out into our hands, pull some apart, name some of them until we got bored with playing with worms. We left the cans just sitting there. Lots of worms, hot summer sun, no way to get out and no dirt. Frazzling.
I killed a bug, a worm or ninety until I began to get old enough to wonder about life. I wondered enough about life until the miraculous miracle of it all hit me like a beehive bumping me on the head. When the idea of creation became so clearly clear to me suddenly my breath was no more important than that of a bug. I realized they were born just to live another day –purposefully purposed to do something with their lives.
I believe in positively affirming my existence. I hung one of my most favorite quotes above my desk at work. Marianne Williamson’s quote speaks to me.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?” Actually, who are you not to be? We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”
It was just my co-worker, Chad and myself in the office. My back faces Chad most of the day. He was busy doing his good work while I too should have been doing mine. Instead something caught my eye. It was a boxelder bug crawling on my quote hanging on the wall. The young me would have been frazzled. I watched as the bug walked across each line of the quote. I let myself imagine for a moment that the bug was reading the words it was walking across. When the bug stopped I imagined it being affected by the words as much as I am each time I read them. My work ethic kicked me back into getting done what needed to get done as the boxelder did whatever it is boxelder bugs do.
The next day we were in the office. Chad, my office mate and I were talking. He interrupted what I was saying as he walked away into the kitchen of our office. “Hold that thought,” he said as I heard the automatic paper towel dispenser go off. He galloped across the office just as I zoomed in to what he was going to do. The very boxelder bug that I spent time acknowledging the day before was about to die. I stood up like a Marine on a mission. The eye doctor who shares a wall with us must have heard me yell. “Stop! Chad! Don’t kill it! Please don’t kill it! No! Scoop it up and set it outside. It doesn’t need to die. It’s just trying to make it from wake-up time to sleep time just like you and I!”
Life nor death, frogs, worms, mice nor bugs will frazzle me anymore. The scary basement deserves to die. But just as I type that I realize for the basement to die would mean the homes to many things would be destroyed. Frazzling.
Ingstad lives on the prairie near Valley City and writes this column for the Times-Record.