Over the past few days I’ve had a recurring memory of a day two years ago when I was out jogging. It could be nothing. It could mean the end of the Universe!!
I was out for a run in the spring of 2017, like I still do nearly everyday. Little did I know that that day would be different. I was running past our local community center adjacent to a field vacant of any greenery. The result of the ongoing construction that would eventually give birth to a new suburban neighborhood. I bounced along the path with ACDC’s “Back In Black” blaring through my wireless headphones ($30 on Amazon). I pass by many things on my morning runs but that day would forever change me… and THE FUTURE!!!!
As I ran past the new housing development I happened across a small worm inching his (her?) way across the hot asphalt bike path. Of course, like a million other human beings, I thought nothing of it and continued on my way. But as the distance grew between me and the worm, I struggled with an overwhelming feeling that I had to go back. It occurred to me that the worm was inching his way toward the road; a road that he would surely NEVER make it across. I could save him. I thought to myself how ridiculous it was that I was even considering turning back for a worm. I kept jogging onward trying to suppress the thought of going back. But I’ll be damned if the feeling didn’t persist. In fact, it got stronger and stronger the farther away I ran. JESUS, I thought to myself, what the hell am I doing?? It was almost like someone else was in the driver seat of my body. I stopped, pushed “pause” on my Nike running app (free in the Apple App Store) and I turned around and ran the 200 meters back to where I left the tiny worm to die.
When I arrived at the part of the bike path where I’d seen the worm, I was surprised to find that he’d nearly made it onto the road and a most certain death. I carefully picked him (her?) up and carried him (her?) to a nearby bulldozed piece of moist dirt in the adjacent housing development. What more could a worm wish for I thought. With no expectation of thanks (from the worm), I continued onward with my run bearing a feeling a pride and self-satisfaction for helping out one of Mother Nature’s most misunderstood and slimy creatures.
I was a couple of kilometers into my run when it occurred to me that on one hand I just saved a worm from an untimely death (he/she appeared to be a young worm) while on the other, what if that worm was SUPPOSED to die? Did I just inadvertently start a chain reaction of events that would ultimately lead to the demise of all mankind? A few scenarios began running through my mind:
The worm I saved was supposed to make it to the street and end up in the path of a female cyclist who, out of respect for all living things, would change lanes to avoid squishing him (her?). Instead, she continues on her way and narrowly misses a moving truck on the side of which is spray painted a witty limerick. A limerick that had momentarily distracted the driver of a Dodge Caravan who was engaged in a laughing fit due to reading it and not keeping his eyes on the road. The woman collided with the Caravan and was pronounced dead at the scene by two paramedics who arrived late, delayed by a botched Starbucks order after the barista wrote Stephen on the cup when the paramedic’s name was Shawn. Little did anyone at the scene know that this woman was to be a future neurosurgeon, responsible for saving the life of Edward Broughton, the future bureaucrat and philanthropist who would single-handedly convince North Korea to give up their nuclear program by showing Kim Jong Un the Third how he can magically remove his thumb and return it to its proper position.
The worm I saved was supposed to make it to the street where he (she?) would be plucked up by a passing rare Henslow’s Sparrow. The sparrow would have flown to the top of a nearby fence where he’d devour his wormy breakfast. Instead the sparrow saw no worm (because I moved it) and continued on his way over the neighborhood where, in a cruel twist of fate, he suffered a heart attack after being startled by a police car that briefly blasted its siren in an attempt to pull over a vehicle that had not come to a full and complete stop at a stop sign posted at the intersection below. The dead sparrow fell onto the breast of a woman named Helen Bodenheimer who was resting on an inflatable sparkly white and pink unicorn in her backyard swimming pool at the time of the incident. The fallen bird hitting her breast resulted in Helen having a major conniption which caused her to roll off of the inflatable sparkly white and pink unicorn and smack her head on the humorously over-sized penis on a fountain statue of the lesser known Greek God, Dionysus, God of Booze. Helen Bodenheimer was to be the great grandmother of Ronaldo Mastrofrancesco (who took his wife’s surname). He was to be the first man to walk on the surface of Mars. Helen’s demise meant that her great grandson would not only NOT go to Mars, but he wouldn’t be born at all. Thus, he would not be able to warn folks back on Earth about his discovery of a large asteroid that would narrowly miss Mars and continue on a cataclysmic trajectory toward our big blue planet, undoubtedly killing us all.
This one is a bit of a stretch but assuming worms live similar lives to their human counterparts, the worm I saved had been unemployed for the past eight months and life for him (her?) and his (her?) family had been growing increasingly difficult. It was his (her?) first day at a new job and after waking up late due to not hearing his (her?) alarm going off, he (she?) was rushing (as fast as a worm can rush) to get to work at a nearby mud heap. When I picked him (her?) up and placed him (her?) in a pile of fresh dirt at a new housing development, little did I realize that worms are viciously territorial. Within minutes of me placing him (her?) there, a group of about twenty unionized worm contractors advanced on the poor hapless invertebrate and beat him (her?) to a bloody pulp. They placed his (her?) lifeless body in a Diamond brand match box and buried it in a shallow grave that, come winter, protruded slightly out of the frozen earth tripping a passerby named Hendrik Van Dijk, sending him to the ground hard enough to cause a cerebral embolism. Hendrik was to be the future Operations Manager at the Large Hadron Collider near Geneva, Switzerland. He would have been responsible for stopping a Proton collision that would see the end of the universe as we know it.
Well, there you have it. The moral of the story? Leave worms be and the future’ll be fine… or… I put way too much thought into things.