When talking about perseverance, of which I know a LOT about, I’ve often found myself searching for a visual metaphor. Well, I think I’ve found one folks and here he is …
I get it- he’s quite unattractive and a little bit scary, but just work with me on this one, ok?
My first encounter with one of his ilk was on a family holiday to France. I was trying to get to sleep over the sound of my sister’s Jumbo Jet levels of snoring, about to whack her over the head with my New Kids On The Block tape case (small but with a beautifully sharp edge), when I heard a horrid scuttling sound. Terrified, I peeped my head over the edge of the bed and saw a large black THING… was it an animal? Most likely, I mean, it was so frikkin’ large, it looked like a ruddy cat. Either way, I had absolutely no idea what it was and my stomach turned to liquid as I screamed, ‘Daaaaaaaaaaaaad!’
“It’s only a cockroach!”, my dad said, totally dead-pan, like he was telling me the time. Now I’d heard about the cockroach from major sagas like oh, I dunno, THE BIBLE, so i knew this was some epic serious shit. Wasn’t it something about plagues and pestilence and the end of days? I mean, I had noticed it’d been raining quite a bit, which was unusual for France in the summer- was this all a sign? Did I need to get me a boat and some coupled up animal friends tout de suite? Hebrew classes at Synagogue had clearly had been successful in making me terrified of everything. Full disclosure here, but I’ll never forget eating a bacon sandwich and looking up at the sky, totally expecting it to fall in…
Anyways, back to our little scuttlicious friend… “Squash it, dad!” I squealed, my misplaced privilege oozing out of me like tar, thinking it was completely fine to kill any insect I didn’t like the look of.
“But they’re harmless! They don’t bite!” Protested my dad, “Fine”, he bartered, “If you want it dead, YOU kill it!” Challenge accepted, I figured, but I did feel it was a bit unfair what with him having the bigger shoes and me only in my M&S flip-flops…
And so I stomped it to death. Well, at least, I tried. I stamped on that cockroach and held my foot down upon him furiously, so as to stifle his very last breath. I am not proud of this now.
I picked up my foot, half-scared to look, half- ok maybe a quarter- guilty that I had squished one of G-d’s creatures… and as I looked down, the little bugger ran off, scurried into the wall and carried on living his best life, with a giant fuck you and a middle finger (claw?/foot? what do cockroaches use to draw with etc?) firmly flipped.
I was hooked.
I had never known an adversary like it. He was a badass, you had to give him that! I believe he firmly could not have given any less of a shit.
Cut to today and I find myself admiring that little (huge) cockroach. Faced with my foot, he didn’t even flinch- he just carried on. After all, the humble cockroach can and will survive anything. They’ve been around for 320 million years whereas I have only been around for *coughs* like, um 25! *blushes*. Looking back I can see it was like a fight between Tyson Fury and a furry kitten.
So clearly, cockroaches have out-evolved us humans and we have oodles to learn from them.
Cockroaches are therefore #life. Instagram THAT, bitches!
Indeed, they can survive a whole month without food (I can’t even survive half an episode of Love Island) and can go without air for up to 45 minutes (to be fair, I can blow up a whole inflatable paddling pool all by myself these days, so I think Mr Cockroach can give me that one) and yes, they are kinda unattractive in a way only a mother could love, but if the world were to end due to nuclear war, or bad politics, both of which are ever possible, they would be there waiting, ready and willing to hang out with you and play tickle chase. Sort of.
So, why is this relevant to you? Well, we all have a lot to learn from the badass cockroach.
Sometimes it feels like you are slogging away and never getting anywhere and there’s so much competition. So so much. Well, I’ve decided sod that, I’m just gonna channel that little French Cockroach- let’s call him ‘Philippe’. I’m gonna hang around until the very end, continuing to try and outliving all my failures (maybe Philippe was an erstwhile popstar too, who knows?) and try not to let anyone tread on me.
And if you keep on going, eventually everyone else will die and you can be the winner. Or something.
And as for me, I’m pretty confident that when all the other female actors in my age bracket give up, I will get my role, when all the songs have been sung and all the books have been written, I will be waiting there with my gifts, saying, ‘Cooey- I’m still here!’
So, be the last one standing, be the cockroach! Keep on keeping on, because we, my friends are nuclear!
Alexis, June 2019