Like a Moth to a Light
A flash of yellow in a sea of green
So bright and vibrant, it was all I seen
Selfish I was
So without a pause
I dipped down
And plucked it right out of the ground
I kissed the lemon petals
And prepared to settle
Into life with this new prize of mine
But the winner of all things is time
And as the seconds passed
The dandelion couldn’t last
A sudden shift
No longer a lift
What I had once claimed
I had actually maimed
How do I lay stake to treasure
Without causing displeasure
Must I leave it be
In a kingdom
With me just a queen
Behind the scene?
~©Jodi Leigh Miller, 2008
I hope this doesn’t sound too vain, but the way my mind works sometimes astounds me. Let me explain.
Late on a recent Saturday night, after I finished watching Horrible Bosses (a film that has enough laughs that it’s worth watching for “free” on HBO), I noticed a moth had found its way into my apartment and had settled onto the brightly lit television screen. My mini dachshund loves anything that moves of its own volition, so I pointed out the little creature to her. With a vigorously wagging tail, she perched on her hindquarters and tried desperately to get her tiny snout as close to the moth as possible. When it flittered this way and that, she raced about, jumping and whimpering, as she made repeated and valiant attempts to catch the fluttering wings. While her tiny jaws came very close to chomping on the helpless being, she never did successfully catch the moth. At least not that particular moth on that particular day.
But I left out a pertinent detail.
See, I was an accomplice in the panic attack that moth must have experienced when it felt the hot doggy breath breezing by its fragile wings. I admit it. I picked up my puppy and showed her the moth. And even worse, when it suddenly flew to a different side of the still-lit television screen, I cackled in amusement when my dachshund’s floppy ears perked up and her furry body wriggled about. I continued to giggle as I watched her pace and race after the moth.
But suddenly I stopped. I shooed my dog away, telling her quietly and woefully, “Roxi, nooo…don’t hurt it.”
In that moment, I realized that I had provided my dog a moment of excitement before bed at the expense of an innocent creature that had no clue the doom a dog’s slobbery mouth could bring unto it. This is just like the poem I wrote above, where my own selfish desire of capturing beauty in my fingertips caused the imminent death of an innocent dandelion. And the revelation that everything we do in life is at the expense of someone or something else has hit me hard.
Let’s compare this to bodybuilding. In mere weeks, I will begin my contest prep. And as I step into the days filled with restrictions that defy the very boundaries drawn around me, with sweat that drips with pain, with hunger that cannot be satiated , I have to remember: I made this choice to have no choices. My determination to succeed in a “sport” that lives along the blurred edges of sanity resides within my soul at the expense of my desire to find companionship, to satisfy my palate, to take risks that could potentially redirect my life. I distinctly remember my old powerlifting coach revealing his relationship with the gym, calling her his “mistress.” He explained in his gruff voice that she would take precedence over all other relationships, leaving a wake of destruction in her path. She would call, and he would answer with no hesitation. She would play on his emotions, dash all sense and sensibility, and build pheromones that no other experience could come close to creating. And he, he would be her slave, crawling back for more day in, day out, month in, month out, year in, year out to get bigger, better, harder.
He forewarned me that the gym would be my mistress too.
He was right. And I sit in my bed alone, my puppy snoring softly on my lap as Civil Twilight lightly plays in the background and my fingers tap-a-tap tap on the keyboard. And I know I will continue to choose the hot and grimy gym, the meticulously measured ounces of food, the veins that snake along my biceps, the solitude that my decisions reluctantly bring me, like a dead moth in my dog’s mouth.
I feed my desire at the expense of myself. And just so you know, I would cash in just the same way if I had to do it all over again.