On Doing What You Love, A Short Story About Dung Beetles

“Is it round
enough yet?” Donker asked, patting here, patting there.

“Not yet,”
Drina said, working feverishly, pushing in a little clump.

“How ‘bout
now?” he asked, tucking in a loose fiber.

It was a
moment before Drina answered as she rounded the ball, inspecting it carefully.

“It’s a go,”
she yelled, “Let’s roll before we’re hijacked!”

“Hold on
tight!” Donker shouted, “Woo-whoo!”  Donker
dug his powerful front claws into the dry, African ground and shoved off.  It was an excellent push, propelling them
forward with ease.  Tumbling over and
over Drina laughed as if on a theme park ride. 
Every few feet Donker would stop rolling, climb on top, get his bearings
and check out the road ahead and then leap back down and shove off again. 

“We got a
great ball here!” Drina shouted at Donker, whom she could not see as she rolled.

“Yes, it
should make a fine place for you to lay your eggs!” yelled Dunker, a bit out of
breath from pushing the ball of dung that was twenty times his weight.

“Is this
good?” he asked leaping atop the ball and surveying the area.

“It’s nice,”
she said, “thank you.”

for you, my love,” and immediately he started digging and burying the perfectly
round ball of dung.

A few feet
away, a grumpy water buffalo named Haji watched the two dung beetles burying
their ball of dung.

“Don’t you
ever tire of pushing poop around?” he called with his mouth full of cud.

And without
so much as looking up from his work, Donker answered, “Why would we?”

pushing poop.” Haji said.

“So what?”

“It’s poop.”


“My point is
you’re pushing poop,” said Haji getting annoyed at not being able to annoy
Donker and Drina, “That’s not exactly dignified work.”

“We each
have our calling,” said Drina, busily preparing the burrow.

“So your
calling is to gather poop up into balls, roll it across the savannah, bury it,
and then lay eggs in it?” scoffed Haji.

“We mate in
it too,” smiled Donker.

“Oh brother,”
said Haji, flicking his tail.  “Don’t you
get tired?”

“Of mating?”

“No,” said
Haji spitting out some cud, “of pushing poop!”

“Of course
we get tired sometimes, we’re only beetles. 
I mean, we’re quite strong, but we’re not immune to getting tired,” said

“I don’t
mean the physical labor part of your poop pushing, I mean the doing the same
thing every day-part…the day in day out of poop-pushing…You know, the same old
same old.”

“Oh that,”
said Donker, “then no.  I never tire of
doing what I love.”

“How can you
love pushing poop?”

“How can you
love chewing cud?”

“I’m just
saying,” said Haji defensively, “that pushing balls of poop around seems so…so…boring…not
to mention disgusting.”

“How long
have you been regurgitating that mouthful of cud?” Donker asked.

“Six hours,”
mumbled Haji.

“Aren’t you

“Yes, that’s
why I’m talking with you.  I hate chewing
cud all day.”

“That’s too
bad,” said Donker, “we’d only get bored if we didn’t love ourselves and our

“Oh isn’t
that cute?  You’re holy roller-philosophers
now who are going to give me a motivational speech about loving myself.”

“No,” added
Drina, “It’s just that if you loved yourself and the work you do, it wouldn’t
get boring.”

“Yeah, well
what if you hated your work and didn’t much like yourself either?”

“Then your
calling would become drudgery.  It would
become a dead end.  A job you hate.  Something to retire from.  Something to resent.  Eventually you would die a poor, bitter

“So what do
I do?”

“Learn to
love yourself,” said Donker.


“Only if you
make it so,” added Drina as she sank further beneath the ball of dung into the

“But how do
I do that?”

“One thing
you could do is to learn to love what’s in front of you,” she said, “make it
holy.  Make it wonderful.  Make everything you do a vocation—an
expression of you.”

“But I hate
my job of chewing cud!” Haji bellowed. 

“I’m so
sorry,” called Drina who was now nestled completely underground.  Donker was right behind her.  As he sank beneath the ground, he sealed off
the tunnel to their chamber.

“Well, my new
calling is to stomp on beetles,” said Haji as he lifted his front hoof.

But his
words and hoof fell on motionless ground, for Donker and Drina were safely
below in their cozy burrow, snuggled down for a bit of fragrant romancing.









Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog

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