The Pondering Grapefruit
a blog of moments
I thought of silk worms the other day. I'm not sure how the conversation came up, but we started to talk about silk worms, how silk is made, what happens to the cocoons. To be honest, I didn't know, even though my mom and I had visited a silk factory in Vietnam and observed the silk worms from when they were eggs to end.
The question was: what happens to the bodies of the silk worms? Are they boiled inside their cocoons? Are they taken out of their cocoons? Or do the harvesters let them escape first, and then boil the empty shell?
I tried to rack my brain with all the sights and images from that tour with the silkworms. All I could remember was yellow, green and white. And a sense of fascination. So, like in most cases where I am confounded by life, I ask Google for help.
My suspicions were true: they are boiled inside. It is possible to wait for the to hatch into moths first, but the act of hatching would ruin the delicate shell, compromising the integrity of the silk. Still, I couldn't find what actually happens to the bodies when they start to unravel the silk. When I watched a documentary about the process, I then saw an image of bowls filled with very large worms. I guess that's what is left over when all the silk is gone, a very fat and dead worm, perfect for a meal.
Death, and carcasses, is often left out in explaining the process of making silk. There are companies that offer death-free silk, but the silk isn't as good.
In doing my research, I also found out a couple of other things that I did not know before. That it takes 5,500 silk worms to make 1 kg of silk. That even if the moth hatches, it is blind and helpless and will die soon.
The most interesting for me was that the environment has to be perfect for the silkworm to make silk. The slightest change in humidity, temperature, light, the quality of the mulberry leaves can shock the worm and cause it to stop spinning.
It struck me then, the delicacy of it all. That silk cannot be taken for granted given, not just how much death goes into it, but how much life and labor. It really is a miracle that hundreds of years of sericulture have allowed us to cultivate silk worms so consistently under perfect conditions.
But the point of this is not to marvel at sericulture, at the silkworm herself, but to really deduct some applicable lesson to human life.
To think of yourself as a silk worm: what conditions would be optimal for you, and in those perfect conditions, what would be your silk?
I do have a few barometers for how well and healthy I am, and those would be evidence of a cocoon, I suppose. Such as if my fingernails and toenails are in good condition, manicured and clean. I don't paint my fingernails anymore now that I rock climb, but I aim to repaint my toenails every three weeks. If I can cook homemade meals. If I am talking to my friends, both near and far, often. The finest silk that I think I can make, however, is probably my writing. It takes a healthy body and a healthy mind to write, and to write well I need to be in the most wholesome state.
Lately, as an attempt to reach more perfect conditions, I've been feeding myself a lot more. Part of that had to do with going on vacation, but a part of it is also showing kindness to myself, taking it easy as direct behavior change from my tendencies to be very harsh and self critical, a revolt from overworking. It feels good to be full, though instead of mulberry leaves I have been eating ice cream and steak (but after watching Okja I am more committed to eating plants).
Food is just one example of how I am learning to cultivate myself. I won't bore you with the other methods, but I think it is having some positive effect. Perhaps the most important part of this process is just learning to accept that I am a highly sensitive creature, clairsentient, an empath, whatever you want to call it. But part of that is also recognizing that the most sensitive creatures can make silk.
About this Blog
I have no idea how to describe what my writing is about. I just write. I post when I can, which can be weekly or monthly depending on where the universe is taking me. As for the Grapefruit, my Vietnamese nickname, Buoi, means grapefruit.