Butterfly wings and spiderwebs. Cherry blossom. Snowflakes. Ecosystems. Nature is full of fragility, full of beautiful delicate improbabilities depending on improbable balances, strange niches, and more than a little luck. In anything else, fragility of being is often considered a source of beauty and of wonder.
When we think about humans, fragile goes with weak. Special snowflake. The sensitivity that is admired in a predator, or a photosensitive plant is a world away from the sensitivity so often derided in humans. For whatever reason, we have decided that strong is the quality to have in humans. Strong, powerful, ambitious, potent, rugged, tough, resilient. These are the qualities we praise. To say a child is delicate is to imply there’s something wrong with them. If an adult is fragile, they are sick. To be sensitive is not to live in the real world, allegedly. I’ve yet to locate this real world but I suspect there are no orchids in it.
The toughness mainstream humanity values can be brittle. So easily offended, so jealous, so possessive of power and objects. What strength we have exists in deep denial of our mortality, and how easily these delicate, fragile bodies of ours can be broken. If not by injury or illness, then always, in the end, by time itself.
Perhaps if we as a species were more honest about our innate fragility, and the myriad delicate balances on which we depend, we might be happier. If we could posture less, if we did not have to clip our wings for fear of them being broken. If we did not have to tear off our flowers for fear of seeming too dainty. If we did not stigmatise emotional sensitivity and delicacy as a form of weakness… we might find other truths. For all its flimsiness, spiderweb is one of the strongest substances out there.