The other day, while volunteering at my local library, I was gifted with a tiny, magnetic ladybug page-clip. Its cuteness complimented the free book I was also given earlier that day—the storybook rendition of The Yellow Submarine by the Beatles. Pretty cool, no? Groovy artwork with an emphasis on eternal youth. When I returned to my car at the end of my shift, I started to think of a bunch of things that, oddly, compliment one another. Like grilled cheese sandwiches with habanero strawberry jam (thank you, Massachusetts), or myself and clothes shopping. Why not any combination? Why not analyze what’s at hand—or what might be—in any moment?
I looked again at the fake ladybug for a second. Its large black spots were definitely pleasing to the eye. I hadn’t seen one of those bugs (real or not) in years, thinking back to my playground days. My friends and I, searching the grass and sandbox edges for those tiny creatures to pick up, hold delicately, and introduce to the group. We’d usually name each one “Lady” out of convenience. Their shiny white speckles brought a smile to my face, making me think about my own freckles: the one on my inner left foot, my left shoulder, that deep brown one of the right side of my nose, the faint constellations across my cheekbones. I felt that my freckles made me unique, and then I reverted my mind’s eye back to our recess fun. Despite all our ladybugs’ token name of Lady, I subsequently felt like each one of these little spirits had their own tale to tell, as unique as the collection of spots on their backs.
What were their stories? Did that one escape from an evil spider step-mother? Had that little loner almost been squashed by some crazy classmate on the jungle gym (hopefully not!)? Did that one walked all the way from an outdoor planter at the Temecula mall to escape some deluded hummingbird? Anything was possible. All we knew was that we had to be respectful and conscientious with the ladybugs since, just like people, no one can fully grasp another’s backstory. From this idea, I came to the conclusion that, by accepting the things we cannot change, we are made stronger, and by appreciating this new sense-of-being, life can be more interesting. Cue the imaginary sparkles in the air. Can you see them floating?
Rather than the tired “small fish in big pond” metaphor, I’ll stake a new one by claiming that we are “tiny creatures in the large garden of life.” Less catchy, though the image is more warm. I can just imagine butterflies dancing in the wind, splotches of rain—or sunlight—visible through the holes of a monstera deliciosa leaf, maybe a lush peony patch over yonder, a babbling brook singing ancient tunes. The mind drips with opportunity. That’s the beauty of it. You can create your own perfect landscape.
I shall now be a ladybug—crawling around the dank underbelly of the garden, or rainforest, or whatever appeals at that moment. What is essentially 3D as a human becomes magnified as a small insect. A thin stem becomes a bending trapeze, a flower petal a shield from the rain, soft bed, or place of hiding from anything higher on the food chain. A praying mantis becomes an alien, a Venus flytrap becomes a villain. I see a friendly banana slug in the distance—its brown specks resembling the real-life freckles I’ve seen scattered across a beautiful passerby’s face once. Well, I could go on and on.
If you think about it, everything in life has little imperfections—little spots that cannot seem to be shaken off. A faulty printer or a holey tent fresh out the box, whatever it may be. When taking these flaws into consideration, the key is to not get discouraged, but own up in recognizing and appreciating them. If everything went smoothly all the time, how boring would life be? It is the flubs and flops, flakes and droopy flowers that remind us that our time is now, and to make the most of it by not dwelling on what could be, but rather, making lemon custard out of the lemons life provided us—either in a physical or mental manner.
I am just myself, my ancestors’ way-way-off spawn. I will make an effort to make their sacrifices known as I accept life in its static state with a will to make the most out of all else. In the case of cricket sounds or coming to a “boring” standstill against the rapid pace of the world, try to put yourself in the insects’ perspective. As a cricket or ladybug or any other spirit animal, our human troubles pale in comparison. Make today vivid with your kaleidoscope perspective, so unknown to everyone else, and nestle yourself among the shade of a birds-of-paradise and form your own story. Reclaim those ladybug spots of yours—no one’s left behind.
KATHLEEN ARAGON is a senior English major at the University of Hawai'i at Hilo. Her poetry has been published twice in her college literary magazine, Kanilehua. She is also the founder of Trópica Laced Literary & Art Magazine and enjoys zines, honey lavender lattes, and her dog named Churro.