Once a bedbug thought it had found god. Admittedly, the bedbug, being very small, was only hazarding a guess about the colossal form that rolled and sweated and scratched itself night after night in the sheets they shared. But since it was so much bigger than the bedbug, how could it be anything else? Whatever this enormous being was, it certainly seemed generous, for it gave every indication of knowing exactly when the bedbug was most in need of it. Absent for long periods of time, it would suddenly reappear just when the bedbug had grown so weak with waiting that it feared the worst. And when the bedbug’s god finally did return, the long absence was quickly forgotten in thankful rejoicing. In no time at all, a renewed sense of well-being filled the bedbug, replacing its recent anxiety with the elation of believing itself blessed above all other bedbugs in the world. “Mine! Mine! This god is mine all mine!” it would repeat to itself for hours on end. Satisfied with its lot once more, freed from worries about mere survival, the bedbug had time to speculate on the nature of its benefactor. What was it like, this extraordinary being that appeared and disappeared at will and without which the bedbug wondered what would become of its own existence? Where did it go when it disappeared, or was it actually still around even when it seemed to be absent, watching the bedbug languish in waiting? And how could its evident generosity to the bedbug be reconciled with the fact that often it would seize a neighboring bug with lightning speed and squash it to a pulp? In truth, the bedbug had no way of grasping the real nature of the colossus it had come to depend upon. The difference in size was simply too great; the bedbug was as nothing by comparison. That was the extent of what it thought it knew for certain. The rest was pure speculation. The only way the bedbug found to conceive of this great being, the only way to give it some imagined form as a focus for its feelings of humble gratitude, was to picture the mysterious benefactor in its own image: as an immense, all-powerful version of itself. Even this wasn’t easy to manage, though, especially when the great being would return after a long absence with a second great being that it rolled about with in the bed like booming thunder. At such times, the bedbug just had to accept that some things were beyond its understanding. Faced with the inexplicable, the wisest course was simply to count one’s blessings wherever one could find them. And on that basis, weren’t two gods even better than one?
Copyright © 2005 by Geoffrey Grosshans