Praying Mantises? Praying Manti-i? Those last two syllables certainly echo the sound I make (even in my head) when I see one. With 2 bulging eyes set atop their triangular alien head that turns to look toward movement, they FREAK ME OUT!
I realise it’s smaller than I am and has more reason to be scared of me than I of it. What scared animal doesn’t simply flee from its unintended aggressor? The Praying Mantis! Instead, it turns its alien features to face you squarely (“trianglularly”?) and stares you down before deciding on its next move – which usually is to do nothing, by the way. In an elephant lifting its skirts and running scared from a mouse scenario, this has been happening to me more frequently in the last maybe-8 months. I decided to do a little research after my encounter last week. I literally mean “little” because no matter where you look, every website (just like this one, now) prominently displays an image of the spindly, spiky insect.
If I were a Bushman, I’d jump for joy – not fear – because the gods are conveying their close presence. Native Americans also believe it’s a good omen. The “praying” part depicts their contemplative nature as they carefully consider their options. I quite like these explanations so as I looked at the one atop my shower this morning, I recalled Buddhist teachings – that all sentient beings are interdependent and there’d be a reason for our paths crossing. And so I tried to get in touch with the animal (on a non-physical level). I only felt fear (so perhaps it’d worked) but recognised it as my own and soon gave up. What self-respecting Westener can practise this easily when we believe things such as bird crap landing on your shoulder is lucky?! Apparently, it’s not what you see but how you see it – a non-verbatim quote of David Thoreau.
Well, I still believe there’s something to it – other than that I live on the ground floor of a building! (My mother’s house never attracted a single one in my time there, if I remember correctly.) I’ve probably seen 5 in the past months including the juvenile I woke to the morning last week that I went into hospital and the huge one today. While I’m at it, a feather floated in yesterday onto my drying laundry. Angels nearby to help me?
I certainly needed them today…