I brought a Ziplock bag full of tadpole babies to one of my co-workers, who is a biologist. She was giddy at the sight of them, and I wished that I could be that happy about it, too. After all, it's Life. It's Spring, the time of growing things. I should be filled with hope and optimism in the midst of all this birth, this continuation. It should Mean Something. I should write a poem about eggs.
Instead, I feel nothing much but a kind of detached interest in how totally consumed the toads have been with breeding. For weeks, we've had to wear earplugs to bed because the male toad has been barking non-stop. Literally 24 hours a day, he emanates this ear-jangling, one-note hoot-hoot-hoot-hoot sound that never stops. I don't think he eats or sleeps. He just hollers until he finds the female, then he quiets down for a few minutes, then he starts in again. I'm astonished this single-minded determination to self-propagate, although I do understand in a sort of intellectual way that's the only thing we're actually created for. I've never felt the slightest impulse to reproduce myself, so seeing such compulsion in action is fascinating to me.
Before we built out this little home for them, the toads had never laid eggs before, or even made much of sustained effort at breeding. It wasn't the right environment. The water depth wasn't correct, there were no live plants to attach eggs to, and there was no filtration or temperature control. The water in their “pool” was cleaned out once a week, and there were no live plants on which to deposit eggs so that they even had even a small chance at survival. With the terrarium, we've created the ideal environment for...well, creation.
Recently, one my friends e-mailed me and said, “I know of an African myth that's main point is to Name Your Hunger, and the abundance of life will unfold.” My hunger has not revealed itself in longer than I can remember. Maybe it knows it won't be fed for a long while; maybe it doesn't trust me to feed it at all anymore. Exhaustion, burnout, chronic, untreated pain, and no time away in sight has taken it's toll on my ability to access things like joy, passion, and dreams. Maybe when those energies don't see a place to grow, they lay dormant. Maybe sometimes, ignoring our owns needs, shouldering on, and pushing through is not the best path to our own well-being. Or maybe doing so is the highest path to some other, more enlightened gratification. I don't know. I just know that right now, I would love to lay among greenery, running water, and driftwood--and dream.