The Failing Fly

Have you ever been sitting somewhere—perhaps a café, perhaps your very own room, wherever that place may have been—and watched a fly fall into a cup of water?

In an instant the previously untouched surface blossoms ripples that extend outward as a pair of frantic wings flutter. The whirring sound from before ceases. Naturally, we watch. We observe this failing fly that’s fallen, watching as its wetted wings struggle to propel itself any which direction other than down.

Desperation: it is a universal experience among living things, recognized by all.

The poor creature lashes about. It vibrates the water so violently so as to change its own environment: in an instant it has gone from being dropped into a lake to being submerged in an ocean—and the waves here are huge.

They overtake it easily. The thing ceases to move. Lifeless, it floats. It never was going to sink. It never was in danger of drowning.

Sometimes I feel like that fly. Sometimes it’s like my struggle to avoid the things I fear is what ends up causing me the most harm. And, like the fly, I am capable of changing my environment: I can make things worse for myself even when I think I’m making them better.

Sometimes I panic. Sometimes I lose sight of what’s really happening around me and before I know it, I’m drowning.

I think of observing this struggling fly and wonder who might be observing me. Who, indeed, watches my struggle to stay above water and does nothing? It is a question that has no real answer. It is a question that isn’t always worth asking. But, nonetheless I am the fly; and that means someone must be watching, must see me drowning myself here amongst the raging water.

And if they are, if they do, I hope they lend a hand (or at the very least a piece of paper) to help scoop me out.

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