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The Fly and I
by Stewart Blackburn

I'm reminded of a time when I was in solitary confinement while in prison for having been unwilling to kill people for no reason. The prison was overcrowded and they didn't have enough room for all the people in the entry level place called Admissions and Orientation. So I was placed in solitary until they had room for me elsewhere. One day after I had been there for over a week, a fly weakly flew into my cell. It was the only contact I had with another creature, except for the creature who brought me my food.

Since the fly didn't seem to be going any further away than I was, I leaned over and put my finger next to it. It cautiously climbed onto my finger and gingerly moved up towards the knuckle. I hadn't stood up yet and it apparently felt safe enough to jump off. It didn't really fly off; it was more a leap and a dive. Having hit the floor again, it slowly regained its composure, and when I put my finger back down next to it, the fly didn't hesitate to climb back on.

This time it crawled all the way to the middle of my hand before leaping off once more. Now I was beginning to become emotionally involved with this little drama of life. We went through this scenario several more times; each time the fly crawled further up my arm. We both wanted as much freedom as we could get, but the possibilities were very, very limited.

Finally, the fly got almost to my shoulder before leaping off again. This time, however, it had enough height to make it through the bars and out of my cell. It even got a little way around the corner and out of my sight. It was a big letdown to have my new-found friend gone already. And I was surprised at how much this little encounter affected me. The next time I was allowed out of my cell to take a shower I found it dead only a few inches out of sight of my cell.

That connection to another being was as profound a connection as I have ever had and I got two big lessons from that fly. One, that connection, of any kind, is what keeps us going and is the primary source of our joy. And secondly, that no matter how connected we feel, we still have to go our own way and do whatever it is that we need to do--alone.

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