Thursday, 8 September 2011

Learning to let go

When I was a little girl, I found a mouse in my front lawn that had been attacked. It had a broken leg, and while I didn't know how to fix it, my 7-year-old self thought it was a good idea to gently place it in a little glass jar with a piece of cheese. Obviously, when I checked on the mouse the next day, it had met its maker, and I was really sad. Why, I asked myself, could I not have saved the mouse?

A few years later, while walking after the rain, I stopped to toss a few worms off the sidewalk so they wouldn't be squished. I imagine that some of them drowned in the still-soaking grass, but perhaps a few made it. I felt like I'd done my part to help the worms out.

As an adult, I look back and realize two things. First, that the mouse should have gone to someone who knew what they were doing if I planned to save it, and second, that nature doesn't really need that kind of saving in the first place. With maturity comes the realization that nature gives and takes, and that it has to be that way. It's how it maintains balance.

Yesterday I had a 3-hour break from class, and because of some difficult things going on in my life at the moment, I really just wanted to find a quiet spot to be alone. So I walked to Strathcona Park, which is about 15 minutes from campus and right by the Rideau River. I sat on a bench by the water and reflected on the things in my life that need to be fixed, but also on the beauty and fragility of nature. While I sat there, a wasp fell out of the tree above me and narrowly missed my head. When I looked on the ground where it landed, I realized it had a caddisfly with it. The wasp was attacking it, and the caddisfly was doing its best to get away. As I watched them, my girlish desire to save the fly was overtaken by my fascination with what was going on. After all, who am I to interfere? Who am I to decide which creature will survive this? In the end, the wasp managed to get the caddisfly's wings off, chew off its head, and fly away with the rest of its body nestled between its legs.

As strange as it is, this experience gave me a whole new understanding of nature. I'm a city girl. I grew up in the city, scared of insects, and most especially having no love lost for insects that can sting you. But the wasp won my respect. It took on an insect quite a bit larger than it and it won. And above and beyond that, it had no interest in hurting me (as I had originally feared). It left me alone because I showed it the same courtesy.

Next time I see a wasp, instead of freaking out, I feel I may actually take my hat off to him!


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