My foot was throbbing for no apparent reason. It really hurt! Did I stub my toe on my last hike? I discovered it to be an insect bite (probably a spider) of some kind. The little critter must have nabbed me while I was walking barefoot in our yard. As my forefoot swelled up over the next few days, with a corresponding increase in pain, I wondered which species found me to be a threat or otherwise tasty. I was not a happy camper.
Humans have a strange history with bugs. We tend to choose eradication over understanding, especially when it comes to our crops and comfort. Over the years I have developed a deeper appreciation for insects and their part in the ecosystem. Tarn and I allow cabbage moths to reproduce on our kale—up to a point. As they lay their eggs and the little guys begin to munch, we watch the process unfold until too many plants are affected. Then we pinch off the munched and eggs-laden leaves and continue to monitor the situation between harvests.
I have less patience when is comes to biting insects, especially those with which I experience an allergic reaction. We have a little jar in our home designated to catch and release the little buggers we do not gracefully tolerate their presence. But it is done with love. I admit to some swatting when we cannot coax the critter into the jar. Even that action is done with a prayer for an auspicious rebirth. I wonder how many bugs receive prayers for an auspicious rebirth?
As all things are symbolic, I see the reflection of my experience with things that bug me on many levels. Do I automatically swat the annoyance? Or…do I watch with equanimity, noticing a life that is teaching me something about my mind, my thoughts, and my ability to generate compassion even when I am feeling uncomfortable? I have learned the latter is more helpful in the long run. Everything that gets our attention is like a Buddha offering us a lesson.
There will always be more bugs than humans. So, we might as well get along. I do my best—even though I still swear a little when bitten.