Monday, August 12, 2013

Valuing Life - ALL life

       I took my shower yesterday morning with a fly.  Yes, I know that sounds disgusting.  It wasn't intentional.  But about half way through my shower, I noticed a fly on the shower door, let in, undoubtedly, by all of the in-outs of the house the day before.  I noticed the fly and my first impulse was to kill it somehow - with water or the shampoo bottle, or something.  But it didn't move, it didn't try to get away and that stopped me.  Was the fly a bad thing?  It was ugly.  If it had been flying around it would have been annoying.  Flies are dirty and they can carry germs.  But this one wasn't near my food or anything that it could potentially harm.  It wasn't hurting me.  So why did I want to kill it?
       We are generally very callous about life - especially other kinds of life besides human.  But just because we don't understand another life form, just because it doesn't "think" in the way that we do, or "feel" in the way that we do, does that really mean that its life is less sacred?  Or un-sacred?  And that it doesn't have the same rights to be on this planet and to live its journey in whatever way it can without my playing god and deciding when its life should end?  Buddhists especially believe that all of life is sacred and that killing any life is a sin.  I get that.  And looking at this delicate, tiny creature, I found I could not do it damage.
       So instead of killing the fly yesterday morning, I chose to watch it, see what I could learn from it, let it live out its final days or hours without my interference (since my guess was that it was dying which is why it hadn't moved despite my looming threat).  These are a few of the things I learned yesterday from this guru fly:
       1.  Sometimes just resting and being is enough.  We don't have to always be flying around like chickens with our heads cut off in order to actually live.
       2.  Sometimes there is joy is just flying around, letting the air take you where it will, without a purpose in mind.
       3.  Sometimes even genuine and real threats to our existence can change heart and become...well, less predatory, if we take the time and don't react right away to the threat (because if the fly had tried to run away, I'm sure I would have tried to kill it).
       4.  Life, God, the Sacred is in the little things.
       5. Taking a moment to be with what is right in front of you, focusing on that which presents itself in each moment and not worrying about what will come in the next allows us to fully live with whatever time we have left to us.
       Those were some of my "fly" insights from yesterday.
       This morning I woke up to a glass door covered with flies.  So here are a couple more lessons:
       1.  That which looks harmless and even beneficent sometimes just plain isn't.
       2.  Sometimes the postponing of one act, or the failure to act, can lead to serious consequences and a lot more work for us than if we had just done what needed to be done in the first place! (ie, if I'd gotten rid of the fly maybe it would not have had babies in my house, and I would not have had to spend a good part of today vacuuming up many, many flies who have all lost their lives to my raging cleaning frenzie!)
       Not that I don't still see all life as sacred.  Which leads to two final lessons learned:
       1.  Sometimes the most obvious options we see in a situation are really not the only options there are.
       2.  Sometimes the easiest options are just simply not the best.  To honor its life, while still not subjecting the family to the "plague of flies" I could have put it outside.  Or captured it in a jar for further observation: made it into a science experiment for the kids.
       The point is, that while it may be easier to simply not think about how we affect the rest of the planet, be it other people, bugs, trees, the air, the planet, that this does not in the end benefit anyone.  And it does not honor that life is a gift given to everything that has it - a sacred thing - something we should not treat lightly or thoughtlessly, no matter how small.  God is in all of it.  And to honor God, we must honor the God within all life.