Avoiding traps

I know a lady — a real lady — who has mastered a most useful virtue. Let us call it, “incuriosity.” Recently it was tested when she was informed — by the usual electronic means — that she had become the subject of conversation among certain “friends.” Pressed for reply, she announced herself bored. Tempted further, she disappeared.

Her strategy is all but infallible. They will soon move on to someone who cares.

The birds have incuriosity. Here I am touching on the science of ornithology, but my observation could be extended through much of the animal kingdom, and of course, expressions of indifference from plants are nearly universal. A sparrow will look you over, and not decide if you are friend or foe. He may flee you by an abundance of caution. But unless bearing food, you don’t interest him.

Pitfall traps, flypaper traps, snap traps, sucking traps, and ah, the notorious no-exit hairs, have been employed by Mother Nature in her sometimes sadistic design to keep the food chain moving. Or perhaps she is merely unsentimental, filling our world with aphorisms which, like human proverbs, can be read different ways.

Now, here is an aphorism nature can supply. To work, most traps supply an attraction.

Consider the sweet-scented pimpernel sundew of Tasmania. It combines the snap and flypaper routines. The little ones eat mites and the big ones eat flies, that spring their tendrils. These catapult the luckless insect into their sticky-goo. This shows great enterprise, in a plant. A fly should be more careful where he lands.

If sheer size is requested, I recommend the giant montane pitcher plant (Nepenthes rajah), to be found on the fog-dampened serpentine, about half way up Mount Kinabalu in what we used to call North Borneo. The mountain, a thousand miles from the nearest to approach its height, offers a freakshow for Darwinists and other tellers of imaginative “just so” stories. This plant’s lidded urn holds more than a gallon of water and digestive fluids. It will take frogs, lizards, shrews, and small avians, showing a locational partiality for other endangered species. Mostly, however, it subsists on rare insects and spiders.

Except journalistic fabrications, there is nothing big enough to trap a living man. He must be dead first, before his nutritive properties can be appreciated by the scarcely mobile.

So that men are compelled to make traps for themselves, which range from the military, to the legal, to political conventions of slander and defamation, often quite satanic in a considered way. And it is true, one must walk carefully through the jungle of e.g. any tax code, for all are designed to drain the lifeblood from people, no matter what they do. Each is made intentionally complex, so that an auditor will always find something to drop, stick, snap, suck, or pierce one with. The departments are naturally staffed with “sick puppies,” who get their kicks from watching the struggle of their prey.

The dangers of incuriosity are well-advertised, however. Gentle reader could spend all his waking hours weighing dietary risks, or what people are saying about him on Facebook. One might even fret about such as “global warming,” over which one has absolutely no control. Or a pope, or a president, who will be forgotten in another fifty years. It is all time wasted, and what is worse, nervous energy wrongly applied.

Eventually, something will get you. Against obvious threats, precautions might be taken, but for the rest, who cares?