I once told you that a praying mantis could eat a hummingbird. One of those random facts I often share with you but which you have no care for. You would roll your eyes and continue on with your day. Yet for a second, your eyes had met mine and they had smiled at me, hoping that for once, I’d say something of substance. Something that meant something for you and me.
A praying mantis can eat a hummingbird. But I forgot to tell you why that has anything to do with us.
Their hearts beat 1260 times every minute and every minute I feel like mine is trying to match their pace. I try to explain more meaningless facts to more people who aren’t you. Breathless, I chase those fleeting apparitions of us down the hallways, up staircases, and across city streets. Even as I lay in bed at night, my brain reverberates against incessant silence. And there’s never enough time, and I can never move fast enough to reach you, can never muster up the courage to tell you all these thoughts about what we are.
They flit around from flower to flower as a yawn passes from person to person – an involuntary action. The humming of tapered wings mask the sound of a breaking heart. Such a negligible diminutive creature striving to remain afloat, to be seen, unconscious of its own mortality. I live in the moment and I forget to take a breath with you.
What of the praying mantis?
The praying mantis could be anything and everything. It is the chokehold of responsibilities that lie like a yoke around my neck. Things I need to do, things I want to do, all converging at once and weighing me down as if my wings have been clipped. And the moment I hesitate? That’s the moment the yoke breaks and everything comes crashing down.
Most days it feels like the world is this predator, lying in wait for me to be close enough to touch and then its deceptively strong raptorial legs seize my neck and hang on. For a second, I am comforted because who has ever held on? To me? I am so elated that someone actually wants to keep me that I don’t notice as my oxygen dissipates, as my heart finally finally slows, and my mind ceases to think.
A praying mantis can eat a hummingbird.
You are a praying mantis. A trigger stifles my breathing as this relationship envelops me in a vice. I found someone who wants to keep me the way I want to keep them. There are days when we are together and everything decelerates like a slow motion film, panning frame by frame, so we don’t miss a thing. And that’s like when hummingbirds go into torpor when it’s cold, right? Their metabolism slows down to 1/15th of its usual rate so that they conserve energy and stay warm. I want to conserve energy with you for as long as possible, even on the warmest of days.
I am a hummingbird and scientists have always been interested in how they have evolved so differently. This diversity comes, in part, from their co-evolution with the ornithophilous flowers they feed on. The birds get nourishment and the flower gets pollinated and their life cycles have evolved to coincide with each other, creating a mutualistic relationship.
So when I tell you that a praying mantis can eat a hummingbird, know this: I may be the hummingbird, but you are not the praying mantis. And I will stop seeing you as one and start seeing you as what you are.
Let me be succinct for once. I want to co-evolve with you.