Today – it was one of those last warm summer days – I met a grasshopper on our porch. I was lying there directly on the wooden boards of the porch with a beer in my hand, dreaming the day away, thinking of nothing in particular, looking around and observing the world from this unfamiliar perspective. The hanging flower baskets, viewed from below, looked like gigantic spaceships hovering in space, somehow frozen in time and grown over with exotic vegetation. Under the leaves of the Hydrangeas I felt like under the canopy of a tall forest, I imagined to sense the echoing acoustics of a tropical jungle.
With a tiny plop a grasshopper landed near my face. They never land on their feet, in fact they don’t land, they fall, and they always have to collect themselves first, get up, kind of dust themselves off after the apparently unavoidable spectacular tumble and assume a normal posture again. Then they sit there pretty motionless for long periods of time, ready to jump again at any moment but still and relaxed. There is this tranquil tension, this vibrant and yet completely calm stored energy that seems to be around them like an invisible halo. They can jump, boy can they jump, but they can wait too. I see a most wonderful aliveness in this apparent contradiction: Stillness and explosive movement. Calm anticipation without stress, cool, unshakable trust in the potential and awareness of the autonomy to execute it at free will.
I look at him in amazement, my eyes almost at the same level with him, and I strike up a conversation. I don’t really use words – that’s silly, grasshoppers don’t speak – I rather imagine to be a grasshopper myself, a grasshopper with a beer in his hand. I don’t look at the image my brain produces when it processes the data coming from my eyes. In a way, I don’t look at all; I give myself to the strange sensation of this new perspective and just receive. I don’t know what I receive, signals, impressions, ideas, voices, messages? I don’t mind what it is, I just let it in and pay attention.
I can’t help to feel that he is paying attention too. We do the same thing. Are we getting the same messages? Are we listening to the same music?
He moves a little, and then he jumps again and plop, crashes again, actually right on his back, very near to my face and hastily kicks and wiggles to right himself up. He looks almost human in this brief moment when he tumbles and struggles and hurries to get up and compose himself, kind of looking around if nobody has seen this act of foolish incompetence. Or does he enjoy these reckless landings? With his formidable armor he can take it any time.
I ask him what he thinks – not in words, don’t be ridiculous – I just sit with him and wait and listen and imagine there is someone who makes decisions, who can decide when to jump, who has a free will and can choose what to do next.
Klaus October 1. 2008