It didn’t look like the rain would ever let up, even though it had arrived as a summer thunderstorm and promised to only stay a little while. At least the clouds had already spent their heavy artillery. They could only pester me with BB shots of drizzle. Some new air had arrived from the arctic, however, and since the downpour couldn’t drown me, and the gusts couldn’t blow me off the mountain, the air thought it might try to freeze me. My clothes, like soaked sponges, weighed down my hiking as if I had a pack. I shook like a call girl’s cell phone on a marble countertop.
My inner weather matched the outer weather. I could tell which way that wind was blowing; it was still coming from the direction of insignificance and veering towards awe. It carried with it a precipitation of humility. Inside and out, I was wetter than a soaked rat. Fortunately, the internal whirlwind had died to a gentle breeze, so I could put the golf course pencil and composition book away and begin again to walk towards civilization.
The composition book, at any rate, was a sodden mess. I doubted whether I would ever be able to read what I had written and the pencil only tore up the pages when I tried to write. Nevertheless, I didn’t fear losing my thoughts. I might forget certain twisted phrases and fine constructions, but the general thrust of it all, I was certain, would remain indelibly on my mind: I’m not God.
Well then, if I’m not that, what am I?
Brush, laden with rain, blocked the trail and lashed me with their soggy branches. I was so wet, cold, and miserable, filled with regret, slithering through dark impediments, and lacking any counterbalancing self respect, I came to a faulty conclusion. You are a worm, I said, and don’t you forget it.
I’ve always suspected I was a worm. My ex-wife told me as much and I demonstrated it time and time again in my inability to maintain anything like a supportive relationship with my children. My failure to take responsibility for myself was amply documented by my girth. Why, I couldn’t even succeed with suicide.
My worminess goes far beyond any abundantly elective wormlike behavior. I felt like a worm, I behaved like a worm, and I was a worm; always was one, always will be, will never change. I might from time to time put on Groucho glasses and consult a fashion consultant to mask it, but a worm I will remain.
Then, perchance, I saw some worms; real ones; moist, dusky tubes that came out in the rain. Like distant cousins at a family reunion, I tried my best to locate a resemblance. I picked them up and attempted to look at them in their eyes, except that they had no eyes. They had no faces that I could find. Still, we are all fellow creatures. Does anyone care about us? Or are we to be trodden unawares and cut in half when the garden is spaded. We all eat, shit, and die; although, in their case, they eat shit and die. The analogy only goes so far.
OK, so I’m not a worm; at least, not entirely.
I’m not God and I’m not a worm, so what am I?
Return trips always seem quicker than the way out. Before I knew it, I was back at the intersection where the rusted sign had led me astray. I took the other route this time.
The new path was washed out and rocky. I was worried about it getting dark and still not back to civilization. I was still dizzy. I began to hurry.
I might have made it down the mountain more effectively if I had been a worm. Worms don’t have feet that they have to lift higher than the rocks in their path. They don’t trip, as I did, and plunge headlong down a hill.
For a moment, it seemed like I was flying; not because I began to soar or glide, but because it took so long to hit the ground. I even had time to throw my composition book out in front of me to shield my face from skidding on the stones. Not that it did much good; my face still took the worst of the fall. A particularly abrasive rock gouged out a lock of manic panic vampire red hair and scoured my mug from the brow to the chops. Another rock knocked the wind out of me and two or three more went for my kneecaps and my groin. I came to rest with my mouth filled with gravel. The last I remember was thinking how appropriate it was that a worm would die eating dirt.