Accompanied by his mother, a small, immature sample of Homo sapiens passed by and, uninhibited by the social conventions of adults, unloaded the question on his mind.
“Hello, what are you doing?” My interrogator’s tone
Was urgent and demanded a reply.
“Just mowing my front lawn,” I said, “You see how long it’s grown”.
I wondered: could he tell it was a lie?
Did he know I’d not been truthful? Did he know I was a fraud?
Did he know what mental anguish he had caused?
Did he know his artful questioning had struck a tender chord?
I needed time to cogitate. I paused . . .
His question was unfathomably deep for such a squirt,
It sought the truth from deep within my soul.
I’d better tell him everything I’m doing, dish the dirt;
So I began to analyse my rôle:
I’m taking up some space, although a lot of it is gas
(I know it’s rather selfish, but I must);
And I’m slowing Earth’s rotation while the centre of my mass
Is raised above the surface of its crust;
I’m burning carbohydrates – inefficiently, it’s true –
And helping global warming pick up speed
By emptying my lungs of my unwanted CO2;
I’m using up the oxygen he’ll need;
I’m treading on some insect life, and killing it for sure;
I should be helping others, but I’m not;
I think (therefore I am), but I could think even more –
I’m not using all the brain cells that I’ve got.
In short, I’m doing things I’d rather not admit,
And damaging the Earth – that’s what the price is.
The mowing of the lawn is just a front. This pesky git
Has put me in an existential crisis.
I’ll let him off for now, though; after all, this little guy
Is only young. I mustn’t rabbit on,
I’ll answer his enquiry quite concisely – well, I’ll try . . .
But when I turned to tell him, he had gone!
(See also Existentially baffled)