Every spring (and sometimes oftener), I think of Thoreau’s famous parable of the “strong and beautiful bug,” which he recounts at the end of Walden.
It goes like this:
“Every one has heard the story which has gone the rounds of New England, of a strong and beautiful bug which came out of the dry leaf of an old table of apple-tree wood, which had stood in a farmer’s kitchen for sixty years, first in Connecticut, and afterward in Massachusetts — from an egg deposited in the living tree many years earlier still, as appeared by counting the annual layers beyond it; which was heard gnawing out for several weeks, hatched perchance by the heat of an urn. Who does not feel his faith in a resurrection and immortality strengthened by hearing of this? Who knows what beautiful and winged life, whose egg has been buried for ages under many concentric layers of woodenness in the dead dry life of society, deposited at first in the alburnum of the green and living tree, which has been gradually converted into the semblance of its well-seasoned tomb — heard perchance gnawing out now for years by the astonished family of man, as they sat round the festive board — may unexpectedly come forth from amidst society’s most trivial and handselled furniture, to enjoy its perfect summer life at last!”
I draw two lessons from this story: hope and patience. Hope in that even those things which seem buried are not dead–they are instead waiting for their moment to rise up and reassert their beautiful and winged life. Patience in that this moment rarely comes quickly. It comes only after waiting and preparation….and grawing like hell when the right moment comes.
As Henry himself tells us, “There is more day to dawn. The sun is but a morning star.”