Over the summer, I lived and breathed nature. Awakening to hear coyotes was both exhilarating and comforting; time was measured by light from the sun and the moon. After working all day in the rain, I would greet my tent covered in mud, somewhat optimistic about returning to the bush the following day. If strange lunch items fell between leaves, they would be eaten, for fear of lost calories. Insect bites would often cover my arms, and bathing in the small stream nearby was not only a refreshing event, but also an opportunity to maintain good hygiene.
I didn’t touch worms.
During one of our days off, a friend prepared for a backyard fishing opportunity. I helped in the pursuit of invertebrate bait. Impeccable at identifying native worm habitat, I upturned decaying logs and moist rock beds. Upon finding worms, I would promptly beckon Matt to pick up his prized bait, myself squirming as much as the sacrificial worms.
One month later, in September, when I received my worms, I had no hesitation in putting my hands into the bag of squirming red wigglers. Until today, I hadn’t given this much thought. Slimy, wet, wriggling worms slither through my fingers as I turn the mixture of compost and castings, and it seems that my commitment to the ecosystem of vermicomposting has vanquished the superficial aversion I had previously held towards these innocent beings.
And so I realize that as humans, our perceptions can be arbitrary, based entirely on imagined reactions to avoided interactions. Decisions, however simple, are motivated less by reason and more by personal interest. It becomes the responsibility of the individual to identify that which is worth challenging, and it is solely within the individual that change can be sought.