Sleeping Bags Confuse Worms

Crawlers are animals that are always on the move, at great risk to themselves and with visible loss of life. Why do so many worms and slugs venture onto pavement, where the danger level is high? What’s the urge to go from here to there?

The sidewalks of Stanton Street are littered with dried worms. The creatures start their midnight on the move, as they emerge from the moist earth. Once topside, they make tracks across any surface they touch. If they can travel across the cement to reach dirt again– as most do– they will dig back underground. If they get lost going the long way down the sidewalk, they will get caught in the sun and die. If they happen to take a slight left or right, the safety of the grass will be waiting.

It seems it’s all a matter of dispassionate chance. Were the perilous trek to happen to a person, for example someone crossing a desert with a parallel road being just out of sight, it would be heartbreaking. For some observers, it’s heartbreaking no matter what being struggles a long way, seeking relief.

Sleeping bags confuse worms. Two points back this statement, from the worm’s point of view. First: What is the person trying to accomplish? He puts his body into a horizontal sack and is not fooling anybody– he’s not a worm. Point Two: Why do people lay down in bags, and then not get moving? That will never make sense to the crawlers.

Worms, and slugs, and centipedes are constantly making tracks– and many die in the process. Why are they going? Why continually take the risk, when the safety of surround should take priority over the need to wander in the sun?

Variety doesn’t exist in close proximity.

Something is missing and is being sought.

Something must be provided by a given being, in a manner that demands travel.

One’s purpose in life absolutely overrides another being’s judgement for what should and shouldn’t be put at risk.

We may not be aware of our own purpose.

If I’m out in the mid-day sun and I see a crawler in trouble, that is, they have no chance to live given their position and predicament, I’ll get a leaf and move the creature to the grass and shade. Each rescue is resisted. The worm flips and jumps, the centipede is suspicious of the Sudden Magic Leaf Carpet, and the slug shrinks and curls. The easy answer is, they are reacting as if they’re being hunted. Fair enough.

Another answer is, the being’s drive code is written in such a way that precludes another creature saving it from certain death.

That is a powerful code. Sure, we can say with certainty the worm resists “help” because it gets hunted far more than it gets helped. Is there no accommodation in their instinct that accounts for being assisted? If birds and lizards are in such a fierce hunt for food, why are so many crawlers struggling and dying in plain view?

If sleeping bags confuse worms, and they ask, “Why aren’t you moving?” and if dry-out treks confuse men, and we ask, “What are you to gain on the concrete?” then what answer satisfies both?

The crawlers’ purpose in life is written in a code that can’t be understood with a short set of values. There is some benefit being derived from the creatures’ continuous movement, aside from aeration of soil. What kind of lens would it take to understand the full purpose of the crawlers? Would it involve taking into account all animals in an environment, or perhaps a wider scope still? Worms: What causes you to travel so freely, what’s the goal, what fuels the urge? If one answer is “The worms themselves don’t know,” then how can that apply to human actions too?

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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1 Response to Sleeping Bags Confuse Worms

  1. Clive Donald Watts. says:

    Life is full of mysteries. Maybe the issue is not about worms crossing pavements and roads but more about humans obstructing the worms migration routes. Twenty years ago a new airport was built near me. All the moose were moved and alternate migration routes (moose usually travel alone or in close family groups) were built over new roads and the new railway. The whole area was fenced off. However, a few times a year the odd moose manages to get onto the airport. The instinct is too great to try to follow the routes past generations followed. Another thought is “self sacrifice”, like lemins over cliffs when their number become too high.

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