I was watching a moth fly around, batting itself against the light…when I realized that I was watching in both awe, curiosity, and fright.
Fright. I don’t think most people are scared of butterflies and moths. Bees? Yes. Praying mantises? yes. Millipedes? Yes. Scorpions? Yes. Butterflies….?
When I was child, I guess I loved butterflies and moths. I guess I tried to catch them and hold them in my hand. I guess I must have tried to rub my eyes after touching them with my hands. I don’t remember that part.
But I do remember when my mother told me, “Butterflies and moths will make you blind–if you touch them and then you touch your eyes, YOU WILL GO BLIND!”
I can only guess she was saying that in reaction to some behavior of mine–you know, chasing them around, touching them, and then touching my eyes. My mother doesn’t usually make stuff like that up. She’s a nurse and knows better. But maybe she was alarmed and wanted to put me off butterflies and moths forever. To this day, there is a part of me that thinks they will cause blindness.
And so today I blanch when I see a moth or a butterfly flying at me.
(and while we’re at it, why is blindness the greatest threat to children? Isn’t that the same threat associated with masturbation?)