There is a pain in my back.

Robber fly preys on snipe fly

There truly is a pain in my back; it is probably the worst physical pain I’ve experienced. I was aiming for the blue eyes of an azure damselfly, bent slightly over, when I felt what I can only guess being stabbed would feel like. Or maybe having a wire cable stuck in me and pulled out as if my lower back were an eyelet on a boot. For a while, it was terrifying: I’ve slipped a disc. It’s a herniated disc, I can’t take this picture. I’m going to be impaired, I’m going to be useless. I can’t take pictures, I can’t even sit up, I can’t do anything. It was like a million points of color — the kind of color that’s in your cheeks, in your smile, in your eyes, in the joy of your life that keeps you striving to live and to live well — it was like that color drained right out of me.

But let’s not go crazy (right, Mike?): it’s not a hulking robber fly piercing my dorsal exoskeleton and slowly, literally sucking the color out of my eyes. Right? I suppose we’ll never know. Can insects be terrorized? Can you convert their pain to ours, like say, centimeters to inches? Typically people assume that their own immediate pain is greater than another’s, and this goes at the individual as well as the species level. It’s probably a good thing if only for the survival boost that kind of self-centeredness can bring. Of course, I also wonder in my pursuit of the next photograph if I’m putting the knife in the robber’s back. To some, it may be the bad guy, but robber flies must survive, too. I am not proud to say, I have caused a few bugs to drop their lunch and run. But don’t worry, there will be more photographs from this quarter; they keep the color in my eyes. Not all lunches are bugs; we can dine on flowers and photos, too. The good news (besides it not being a disc problem!) is that there are plenty of all three out there for this beautiful moment.

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