Inadvertent Impacts

There are only two images at the end of this little blog. They came about from the tail end of last night as I was in the kitchen getting ready for bed.

I live in an older house and it is a continual battle with mother nature, keeping the vines from overtaking the place. There is a huge vine on the western face of the building and outside the kitchen window it is standing about fifteen feet tall. It clings to the building and its tentacles have now grabbed onto the glass of the window.

I have pulled this down several times these past few years and they keep growing back. I have mowed over them, hacked at them, even pleaded with them.

They are a beautiful plant but I don’t want them taking over the house. It is already bad enough. On the nearby trees, they have climbed to heights of about thirty or forty feet and they look awesome there. Just not on the house, please!

Anyway, this current one that is climbing along the kitchen wall houses several small creatures and I have been reluctant to pull it down because of that.

I still will. I am just putting it off.

In any event, as I stood at the kitchen sink last night, taking my medicine, I saw that a lovely frog (or toad) was outside on one of the stalks, looking back in at me.

That’s who I took the pictures of, at the end of the blog.

This particular spot has always been a haven for such little creatures as the light from the kitchen windows draws a wonderful supply of food for them, right to the glass surface!

Morgan has a habit of leaving lights on when she leaves a room, and being a night creature herself, the kitchen lights always seem to be on overnight … hence the frogs.

Admittedly, I too have left the lights on occasionally when I spot one of them outside the window. I like to think that I help them get a fill of whatever bugs they can catch.

The only times I deliberately turn them off when a frog is there, is when I spot a moth on the window … I like moths and don’t want to play a part in enticing them into the frog food chain.

Anyway, as I wandered off to bed last night (leaving the light on for him) I began to think about what eventually led me to this blog thought.

Essentially, the thought is how we can impact life around us in either a negative or positive fashion and how rarely that fact is more than just a passing thought for us.

Most times we are too busy going somewhere or doing something to even realize how we help or hinder other creatures. Major issues like polluting the environment, destroying habitats, etc., are done on a huge scale but that is not what I am talking about.

I am talking about the little moments in our lives that turn out to be big moments in the lives of other creatures.

For example, when we are walking across the driveway and we see a worm stranded too far away from the grass, exposed to the sun or a predator … do we just walk by? I am sure the majority of times this happens around me, I don’t even see, but last week I found a crispy leaf, put the worm on it, carried him over to the grass, broke a little ground for him and tipped him into the soft earth so he could escape.

Twice the week before I found a large black beetle lying on his back on the asphalt, unable to right himself and I righted him, took him over to the grass and let him free. But how often have I not noticed situations like that?

My big accomplishment yesterday was noticing that some of my kitties had caught a vole outside and were in the middle of deciding what to do with her. I took the decision out of their hands, caught her, drove her to a safe place a mile away and released her near some tall grass and a small pond, where she happily ran off to begin a new life.

These are all instances, where I stopped myself mid-routine and played an active part in the life that is going on around me.

But like everyone else, I normally go from point A to point B, busy in my own struggles and oblivious to the lives of smaller creatures around me. This is a natural response to living a life that is at least partly self-involved.

Some people are completely self-involved and oblivious on a staggering scale to the suffering of those around them. These people disgust me and while I don’t expect everyone to begin looking for over-turned beetles and deliberately setting about to righting the world, it would be nice to think that people could at least make themselves occasionally aware of those tangentially crossing their lives.

Being aware gives us a choice of do we help or do we keep walking. So that is the first step; being conscious of the world in which we travel. It is important to understand that we don’t travel it alone, nor does it revolve around us.

Then, once we face that choice of helping or not, it comes down to our feeling of empathy. Empathetic people will almost always help, non-empathetic will not.

OK, I said “will not” as if that is always true 100% of the time. The truth is they might help if they happen to think highly of the creature involved. A beetle, no. But a cute little puppy, perhaps.

Empaths will help regardless of their own taste and that is a powerful statement of character.

A few weeks ago, a big mud-wasp flew in through the open door into my office and flew menacingly around me several times. I spotted him immediately and wished him back out the open door but he was having none of it.

Then I saw him fly over towards a window on the far side of the room and he landed on the edge of a picture frame I have mounted over there.

I didn’t see him move away and became concerned, so I got up from my desk and walked over to inspect. His leg had become stuck on a cobweb and he wasn’t able to break free.

So, I grabbed a piece of cardboard that would allow me to free him from a distance of a few inches and I did so. I carried him out on the cardboard with the web still holding his leg on it and when I reached the surface of my car, I put it down and then used a pine needle to free him and he flew away.

There wasn’t any wave of gratitude or benefit to me. Nor was I expecting one. I did it because I was able to. It cost me nothing but a minute of my time but my inaction would have cost him his life. I think that was a good trade.

By the way, in rounding off that story, as I pulled his leg free from the initial web at the picture frame, I saw that a spider had started to come out, hoping his trap had worked.

So over the course of the next fifteen minutes and again later that day, I managed to catch a few mosquitoes and bring them over to the web where the spider accepted the trade.

Anyway, the point that I am trying to make is that it is easy to focus our lives on ourselves and even on those immediately around us. But we actually move in a much greater circle than just that and we should become aware of that.

Removing life’s blinkers is a genuine first step in understanding our role in the environment in which we live.

Beyond that, it becomes a simple statement of whether we want to impact that environment in a good or bad way. Because impact it, we do!

… just a thought!