Occasionally the subways here in Korea capture some riders that don’t belong. In this particular case it happened to be a moth. Fluttering around, gravitating toward the lights, and occasionally bumping into the human passengers, it became clear very quickly that the moth was not wanted on this train. Startled human passengers swiped at him as he flew by, doing the only thing he knew how to do. Eventually, he made his way down toward me. Understanding quite well how it feels to be an outsider in an unfamiliar place, out of sympathy I felt the need to preserve his life, for in a way he was just like me.
As he landed on the window behind me for a brief moment I cupped my hand, captured him, and placed him in a plastic baggy I had with me. Now I’m sure from his perspective, this seemed like the end – a massive swooshing sound, followed shortly after by a BOOM and darkness. Then all of a sudden, there was this invisible barrier between him and the outside world in which he was so used to being free. But how could he possibly understand the complexity of the situation he was in from his small perspective. I knew that if he flew around much longer he’d eventually be killed. Yet I only knew this because I am a human, and I understand human things. He is a moth, and so he only understands moth things.
Remembering what I know about insects and their attraction to light, I realized that he became more agitated and tried to fly away when I let light in. So instead, I decided to cup my hands around the baggy and let him rest in the darkness for the remainder of our ride together. Ten more minutes passed by until it was my time to get off the subway. I carried him with me for a short while until I found a place I deemed safe enough to let him fly again. At which point, I opened up my hands, the bag, and his world once again. For a moment he scuttled toward the entrance of the bag, then took flight, never to see me again. From his little perspective, he may never know what actually happened to him. He may never know that he evaded certain death on the whim of another creature, unfathomably more complex than he. For the way he sees the world is quite different the I do, and in his limited view there was nothing good about what happened to him. It may merely have seemed like a simple chain of random events, without any meaning at all. But you and I know the real story.
Now for a minute, imagine you are the moth. You flutter your way around in life, gravitating toward things you see as light (good, happy, enjoyable things). One day, unknowingly you flutter into someplace your not supposed to be. Yet, from your small perspective you can’t possible know what you’ve gotten yourself into. Without even knowing it you come inches from death, and continue on your way, fluttering around this place you don’t belong. Then, out of the blue, something terrible happens to you. Sadness and darkness surround you and it seems there’s no way out. After a while, you start to see little bits of light again but for some reason you can’t get there – there’s some invisible barrier blocking you from enjoying those things. More time passes by and suddenly, the barriers go down. As if nothing out of the ordinary had happened, you are back on your way again – fluttering about, free as can be. You see, the chain of events that led to your eventual freedom were orchestrated by an unfathomably more complex and intelligent being than you or me. How could we ever understand such a thing? And yet, the better question may be, do we really need to?