The Bats of Nexton Pond

The bats are out at Nexton Pond. If you want to benefit from a new experience you can stand under the bats and watch their numbers crisscross the early morning sky. Watch them cut and erase so much junk that’s in your head, when all you intended to do that morning was to get in a walk before the work day began throwing its knives. The bats go about their hunt quietly, snapping up flies, operating in a silence aided by sleeping residents and parked cars just feet away in three directions.

I used to be scared of bats. If I happened to see one on a particular night, I’d duck my head and flee indoors. I’d never actually been attacked by those little runny-nosed winged wolfettes; my fear was due to what I’d seen on TV and read in the comics. Those pillars of impression were good enough for me to make up my mind– and I was safe inside, leaving the bats to do their evil blood sucking on cows’ bellies and people’s necks, or stealing grapes or whatever they were up to.

It’s an hour before sunrise. I can stand close to the thicket at Nexton’s Great Lawn Drive and face the small pond to my left. I’m near an intersection but there are no headlights to obscure what’s going on in the dark air war. There are twenty to thirty bats darting about, acting much like flycatcher birds in their aerial stunts.

I stand there and let my fear go. It’s so easy! And I feel so relieved, of physical weight and of mind too. It’s not hard to lose oneself this way, when it only takes a few moments to see there’s no danger. With my head high, and eyes accustomed to the dim light, I can marvel at these odd mammals. I follow them and I can almost fly with them too.

When all I’d managed before was to run.

The bats emit no peeping sounds, no flapping wing sounds. The acrobatting is the experience. In the quickness of the activity there’s the random close flyby. When a bat veers close to me, it’s startling, to say the least. Does the bat see with its eyes, or does some type of sonar system employ its ears to guide? They come within a few feet and it leaves me smiling. Hey bat, let’s agree not to occupy the same space, not even for a moment, sound ok to you?

It’s a deal.

My judging the bats without knowing them was a character flaw within me. I was wrong to do it. I thought my opinions of bats were justified, and harmless to the bats, yet my opinions kept me unwilling to know those creatures. I understand why people fear bats. I understand not everyone is going to walk to a pre-dawn pond and muster the courage to linger and look. I also learned something else.

Letting go of my bat fear was just a part of my turn while standing at Nexton Pond. I also observed the fluttering of my attitude shift. Here’s a life lesson: There’s more than what’s observed by your eyes that has to sink in to your mind. Not all of what’s missing in a person will get resolved in a neat little case of “Look bats really don’t harm me!” enlightenment. Not right there, not right away.

You’ll have to step away from that pond and think about it, later. You’ll have to factor your points on another day, and in the light of your familiar life. Because the comfort of day is where you happen to flutter best.

There are people who are going to be scared of things– scared of ideas, other races, the opposite sex, and political parties. Not just because of what they’ve seen on TV or in print. Some people have had negative personal experiences with others, or have heard of such experiences, and they will feel deep anxiety or resentment when paths of that type of person are crossed. This is prejudice.

There’s little that I can do for those people to resolve that. I can’t say, “Stand by the pond and let go of even one of your pre-judgements.” I can only look to within myself and ask, “What else have you accepted, and not challenged, that you need to revisit?”

What specific person do you not respect, due to the fact that you’ve got it in your head that you must despise the entirety of her kind?

In referring to the days when I’d flee to my house, I was wrong when I said my prejudice was harmless to the bats. They were harmed, because my regard of them was so low, and so factually incorrect, my ignorance was a terrible disservice to them. I was also doing myself harm, because my opinions on the complete range of species was a disservice to me. That’s something that I have learned. That’s something I can change.

CAPTION: What can the pre-dawn bats teach us, about ourselves?

About Ara Hagopian's The LITERATE Show

For over thirty years, I have enjoyed drawing beautiful shapes and writing complementary stories. The imagery tends to focus on our place in the world—whomever or whatever we may be. I am influenced by Twentieth Century history—I read vintage magazines, books and letters. Inspiration comes from visualizing human achievement and personal interaction—derived from people, places and things which may be obscure, but never insignificant. My pen-and-ink THE MAGNIFICENT RECOVERY was selected by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston for their 2008 summer art auction.
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6 Responses to The Bats of Nexton Pond

  1. Clive Donald Watts. says:

    A nice piece. Amazing what we can see and learn if only we have confidence in ourselves to try.

  2. spesch0831 says:

    Once again you take an observation of life and nature as it is and draw us into an introspective life message. I am taking away the message of drop judgement. Judgement of a food you dare not try or a person dressed differently or even to go so far as to say — the judging of opinions. I think you’re showing us ways to view life as an enthusiastic observer. Thank you!

    • I like your idea of dropping judgement of food. Substitute bats for food- easy to do. The tomalley in lobster is an example for me. Tomalley is the green gunk in the lobster bodies, once you remove the tail. Well, I avoided the gunky stuff for years, and I was a Gloucester boy. As time went on, and I would be focusing on my favorite part, the tail, I realized I enjoyed the bitter end of the tail quite a bit. This was the tomalley-tinged part. Hey, if you want more of that good stuff, you can get more of it inside the shell. But I hate that stuff! But you don’t! Thank you Sue for reading and commenting! -Ara

  3. Joe says:

    I too have marveled at that aerial ballet that takes place at sundown.
    Great observation.

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