Thursday, April 20, 2017
I found this husk of a magnificent being on my walk today. Her wings were without tear or crumble, legs and antennae folded neatly against her body in a position of dignity resembling last rites.
Of course I suspected pollution was to blame, or lack of habitat or nutrition, but possibly not. Turns out Monarch butterflies proceed through generations pretty quickly. One generation is now dying while the other is just alighting from the milkweed pods.
I like to think this is an older butterfly, colors faded from exhaustion and mating and procreating, who died after falling from a tenuous perch on a tulip, hanging on until her legs would no longer obey and then drifting down like a kite on a windless day. I like to think she landed without pain on the pre-dawn concrete walkway; a cool, quiet death after so much striving, so much work in the heat.
I was brought up on the idea that animals don't feel pain, don't think, don't have emotions. That old idea is clearly false, and I always knew that. But it does make it easier, on us, to say it to ourselves.
Empathy-it's one of the great human dilemmas.