Out of the front door I go, to take the rubbish out. And there it is. Crunch. It’s a snail, squashed underfoot. I feel bad, I feel guilt. When I see a snail or slug on the drive, I pick it up and deposit it in a safe place.
Life is all about karma. What you do to someone, the way you behave, will come back on you at some point in the future. And with me it’s not just about people, it’s also about all living creatures.
The other day I came into my office and spotted a small black ball caught in a spider’s web. I picked it out and discovered it was a woodlouse – slightly distressed but able to uncurl itself and scuttle away across the patio. I felt good karma.
I’ve rescued mice and rats (yes, rats), worms, beetles and many a spider. This morning, I filled a plastic bottle with water to pour on some plants, and inside was a spider. As it floated to the top, I put my finger into the bottle and rescued it – it let itself down from my finger on a thread, and off it went. More good karma.
If I’m ever on holiday in a villa with a pool, I spend the early part of the morning rescuing all the insects that have fallen into the water overnight. Even the nasty biting ones.
Killing doesn’t come naturally to me. There are insects I dislike, wasps in particular. But if there’s one buzzing around my house I’d still rather catch it and let it go free rather than squash it. If I see a flattened frog on the road, I feel bad for days, even though it wasn’t me that did the deed.
But every spring for years, we’ve had a plague of flies in one of the upstairs rooms. I don’t for the life of me know where they come from, but suddenly there they are, clustered around the window, fat and sluggish. My first instinct is to catch as many as possible and fling them out of the window. But when that doesn’t work and the flies keep coming, I have resorted to fly spray. And then I feel guilty for weeks. Bad karma. Death by fly spray can’t be nice.
I feel the same way about slug repellent, which I stopped using some years ago. Rat poison? No thank you.
I even hate spraying weedkiller on my patio weeds – what have they ever done to deserve it? Hence the natural jungle on the way to my front door. I tend to let things just grow. And I’ve been rewarded with violets, pansies, camomile and once a crocus, popping up through the cracks.
Perhaps I’m a Buddhist without knowing it. Although I can’t meditate for toffee (though I might for chocolate) and I suspect enlightenment is something well out of reach, as the older I get the more confused I become. Usually about where my glasses are.
So at the end, when my number’s up, I wonder if all those tiny creatures I’ve rescued will come to greet me at the Pearly Gates. Or will some very cross flies or squashed snails intercept me and wreak their revenge?