August 01, 2008

My Buddha nature, rekindled?

This morning as I was getting the kids ready for their last day of summer camp, I stepped out onto the porch and was met by an ethical dilemma. A spider had crafted a huge web overnight, right over my lawn chair, and caught in the web was a moth, still alive, flapping furiously, but to no avail. I sat in the chair next to the web and pondered the scene. The spider was nowhere in sight, and the moth was still wildly trying to fly out of the sticky mess. Should I free the moth, or, should I decline to deprive the spider from it's well-earned meal? I mean, I don't particularly feel an affinity for bugs and don't go out of my way to spare them. I step on ants. I swat flies. I smack mosquitoes. Earlier this morning I forced a giant centipede down the bathroom drain when my daughter shrieked as she met it in the shower. So why did I even think twice about it. Perhaps it was the helplessness I saw. Or the terror of the moth's certain death. Or just it's fighting spirit — still trying to escape against insurmountable odds. I wondered, is it even possible to free a moth from a spider's web? I reached out with the end of my cigarette (yes, I said cigarette) and burnt the two threads of web that anchored it to the balcony, sending the moth and web cascading gently onto the lawn chair. I bent down and picked up a stick and gently tried to loosen the moth from the web. I managed to get the moth out of the larger web, but it was still trapped in goo, and unable to fly. And it seemed more scared than ever, flapping unceasingly. I laid the whole sticky thing down on the porch post, and began the careful surgical procedure of freeing each of the moth's tiny appendages from the adhesive threads that wound around it's tiny legs and body. I used my finger and a stick to gently try to free it. I couldn't give up on this little guy now. It was still going to die if I didn't get the web off it's body. I pulled gently at the twines of web and suddenly, the moth was free, and flying! It flew right at me and clung to my sweatpants for a moment and then flew away. When I went in and told Little M what had happened, she said, "it was giving you a hug, Mommy, for saving it." I'd like to think so.

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