[The entire essay is included in “First Loves”, available for $2.99 in the “Buy the Books” section of this blog.]
Demographicars tell us that around seven billion people live in the world today. Written out: 7,000,000,000. That’s a lot of zeroes, a lot of total failures. And if you think over the history of the world, the number of failures soiling this earth becomes absurdly large. Or consider animal life: Has there ever been a cockroach that amounted to anything? The Smithsonian estimates that at any given moment there are 10 quintillion (10,000,000,000,000,000,000) insects alive on the world. Add that together with arachnids, worms, mammals, fish, crustaceans, mollusks, and the rest of them! Just contemplate how many useless failed wretches this earth holds! Just hold that in consideration for a moment or so; hold that terrible edification in your wretched skull for a few.
I am uncertain whether or not to include the tiniest of critters (amoebas and the like) within our list of losers.
But first — before a thorough and fair inquisition of the one-celleds — :
Although I know we all already know what constitutes a failure, some may have difficulty admitting it to themselves, as it clearly implicates them and all they stand for; so let’s review the anatomy of failure by investigating a simple mosquito. A moment in the presence of a mosquito is enough to let anyone know that there is a drop of consciousness there. Is a mosquito therefore a failure? Take a deep breath, consider it, feel the mosquito and the question of whether or not we could consider the life of any mosquito ever to have been any kind of a success. Breath out. Clearly not! It is self-evident that mosquitoes have some little pathetic sliver of awareness, and it is just as self-evident that mosquitoes are always losers: it takes only a drop to condemn: one drop of consciousness within a creature that’s not amounted to much is the criterion of hopeless failure.
[“The Things We Long For” is available in its entirety in “First Loves”, a collection of essays published on this site at “Buy the Books”.
It’s author is Ponce de Viermeil, many years, reforms, back-slides and rejuvenations after discovering the Fountain of Youth in what is now Southern Florida, USA.