Before Our Eyes

Face of Rhagio snipe fly

In the vast landscapes of Earth, before endless deserts or oceans, plains or mountains, people are awed or even overwhelmed. The world at large is beautiful, humbling and, sometimes, terrifying — and we (well, most of us) haven’t even gotten a firsthand view of outer space. Sometimes in these big pictures we can get lost trying to find our significance or place. I kind of have the opposite challenge (in addition). The pictures are still big, but I get lost in the tiny parts of tiny things. How do they do it? That is, how do creatures so fragile, so much smaller and shorter-lived than many of their fellow earthlings — so apparently unaware of it all — how do they survive? How do they find their place? There is no awesome terror as a giant with a monstrous camera blots out the sun and leans over the insect’s tiny body. There is a reaction, flight or fight, or maybe not — maybe no threat is recognized and it stays at rest. They don’t seem to have any idea of the peril at times like that. Sometimes, it is a wonder they have made it this far, but sometimes it’s not. All that is missing really, is a look closer yet, a glimpse of the infinitesimal thing that makes it all possible — that makes sense of this impossibly large but tiny world where an insect can live as a grand queen or a noble warrior, where the odds are all after the fact, where everything is either perfectly inexplicable or inexplicably perfect.

For your referential pleasure and knowledge, the snipe fly featured in the photograph above is likely Rhagio tringarius. It is a true fly introduced to the United States from Europe. You can see a view of the profile (not necessarily of the same individual) on my Flickr page.

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