Sunday, March 5, 2017
Hopeful Thinking - Saturday, March 4, 2017 - The Orphan Frog
It didn’t even try to run away from me when I first saw it. My six year old hands easily snatched up the little green frog on the ground at my feet. (The same over-curious hands which also sucked the puddles dry with the house’s central vacuum cleaner the week before, destroying it utterly. The hose was just long enough to reach out into the biggest puddle in the driveway.) I was proud of myself for saving the frog. Clearly it had been abandoned by its mother. There was no doubt this frog wouldn’t survive without intervention.
I went into the house to find a container for the baby frog’s new home. I protected it from running away in the meantime by tightly wrapping it up in a thick towel. My little brother was only two so there were still remnant baby food jars fulfilling all matter of utilitarian tasks in the house: paperclip holder, safety pin holders, beads, thumb tacks, rubber bands. I chose to evict the rubber bands from their jar by eminent domain in service to our newest member of the family. Orphan Frog.
Since all frogs swim, of course, it would need water in the jar. I filled it up to the top. And since frogs need to breathe air, of course, I poked holes in the lid with a nail and a rock. I gently unwrapped the frog from its terrycloth mummification and plopped him into the jar. Lid screwed down tightly.
Orphan Frog immediately reacted violently. Desperately trying to escape the water, it jumped up for the lid and stabbed itself repeatedly into the jagged points of the air holes I had so lovingly prepared. The frog was bleeding. I couldn’t get the lid open. I tried and tried but the jar was now too slippery for my little hands. He died. I caused it to happen. It was a terrible death.
That incident has haunted me my whole life. Of course, I understand what happened and why. I wanted to protect something which, in my view, needed protecting. It was noble, compassionate. But what I failed to grasp then—and still often fail to grasp now—is that not all things which appear to be in danger require saving. Some people are not asking to be saved. Some are doing just fine as they are and need nothing more than a little company and a non-anxious presence. Our job is not always to save the world but to simply bring hope into it.
That little boy was first and foremost a compassionate soul, however. I know this because of how deeply that event was imprinted upon my psyche. How permanently I was scarred on behalf of that frog. My eyes cannot forget the suffering. I don’t want them to.
Posted by Wil Darcangelo at 1:35 PM