22) Gratitude Day 3: Bugs

I’m grateful for bugs.

There is a SOUND that I associate in my memory with the idyllic little farm where I spent the best years of my childhood.  And I know it is a real memory, because I went back one day, 25 years after leaving that place, and the very moment I stepped out of my car onto the dirt road, I knew I was Home.  It was the sound.  It was as distinctive as a song.  That song was in my blood; I had heard it for countless hours of the eternal summers of childhood as I sat up in the fields digging up forgotten treasures from the old homestead or something that had burned down many decades before we arrived on the land, walked, crawled and skulked through the forests pretending to be, either a bear or a ninja, biked down the dirt road the kilometer or so to my nearest young neighbour’s house, walked the trails down to the river with my dog.

I knew this song.  And 25 years later, the moment I stepped out of the car, it hit me and my eyes filled with tears at coming Home.  The notes of that song were the specific chorus of buzzings and chirpings and zingings and — I don’t have the vocabulary to describe all the sounds that bugs make.  But it was a bug song.  Accompanied by the wind purring and whistling through the branches and leaves of the endless-seeming forest around us.  It’s probably the most comforting sound I know.

I’m grateful for bugs.

The Dalai Lama was asked once how, in Tibetan society, people learn to be so compassionate.  He answered “It starts with bugs.”  And then went on to describe how children, who are cute and smol, first exert their power over the living world with the other smol creatures — particularly bugs.  Everybody knows that little thrill of Power that flutters inside you when you squish bugs.  Some people, who have particular trouble with empathy or who have particularly strong needs for Power, inflict their violent will on these smallest creatures, pulling off wings, smelling shrivelling smoking corpses under the superpower they wield with sunshine and a magnifying glass.

This is compassion kindergarten.  Teaching Tibetan children that these little, often scary-seeming and certainly alien-looking creatures, are not-separate from them, teaching them the reality of their Power over other creatures — Power to maim, to snuff out the candle flame of a particular living being — teaches them restraint, mindfulness, respect, and compassion.

I did the same thing with my kids.  Catalyzing childrens’ love for the living world is easy, if you approach Life with Love, and show them that, whenever you have the opportunity.  It starts with bugs.

I’m grateful for bugs.

They’re beautiful, mysterious, fascinating.  How many times have you watched dragonflies in wonder?  Butterflies with delight?  Looked at the massively magnified pictures of insects in coffee table books?  Have you ever marvelled at the transformation that happens inside cocoons?  Giggled at fuzzy caterpillars?

I’m grateful for bugs.

Because they are part of practically everything else I love.  Frogs.  Birds.  Trees.  Food.  Flowers and all the other plants and animals that not only give us most of what we have in life, but also keep us company, making humans something other than Alone on this rock floating in a vacuum.

I’m grateful for bugs.   They’re the choir singing the Song…..of my home.

(And this song is ending…)

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