Does anyone know if a partially dehydrated, barely moving worm on the sidewalk is all but dead? Does a splash of water and moving it to the grass help, like returning a beached marine animal to the ocean? I ask because that’s what I do and I wonder if that actually makes a difference. I don’t plan on stopping, I’m simply wondering if my intuition is correct.
A few days back I started listening to one of The Great Courses, The Philosopher’s Toolkit: How to Be the Most Rational Person in Any Room, and one of the first points Dr. Patrick Grim makes is our initial intuitions are often wrong. As he was making his argument, I saw a partially dehydrated, barely moving worm on the sidewalk. I picked it up, splashed a bit of water on it, and transplanted it in a grassy area. Up until that point I had never questioned my “worm saving” actions. It was just something I did, a knee-jerk reaction.
While the answer to the question—whether or not it makes a difference to try and save them—won’t change my behavior, but thinking about it, and how that intuition/response in me plays out in other areas, may change what I do in other situations.
(why not change what we do with the worms?)
Because even if they are dying, and nothing will change that, dying in the grass after a cool bath seems more natural than drying out on the sidewalk. It’s the difference between dying at the hospital/hospice, surrounded by beeping machines and strangers, and dying at home, in your own bed, surrounded by family and loved ones.
Perhaps I’m being overly sentimental. If what I do for them doesn’t matter to the worms, it doesn’t matter if I do it in “the grand scheme of things.” At which point it’s just something I do. Ironically, in that respect, it does matter. It matters to me. It makes a small difference in my heart, and anything that staves off the advance of the numbing cynicism is a good thing, right?