A few mornings ago, I had a reminder of how good it feels when we help others and share with them our love and other little things we have lying around. That morning, when I turned on the shower preparing for my daily water-cleansing ritual, I spied a little black, short-legged spider skidding along the bottom of the tub seemingly not knowing how she arrived at the predicament she was in. Because of the nature of her body and the slipperiness of the tub, she was unable to get out of it and her dilemma.
Being a Buddhist and committed to encouraging life not ending it, I view all life as precious, including creepy crawlers. So I immediately had compassion for her. But I found myself in a predicament, too: how to help the spider out of the tub and her situation and proceed with my shower with only me getting wet and not this tiny reflection of consciousness.
While I don’t mind sharing my home with spiders, after all they need a home too, I do like to shower alone, even though I’ve heard one can save water by showering with a friend. So, my first challenge of the morning was how to get the spider out of the tub so I could get in. Although I have a fondness for them, I don’t necessarily enjoy picking them up with my fingers; I’m fearful I might squeeze them too tight during the rescue.
When I noticed the dental floss on a nearby shelf, I pulled out a few feet of it and dangled it next to this little lady in distress, tempting her to grab hold, thus enabling me to swing her from the bottom of the tub to the top of the tub’s side next to the wall. It took a few minutes, but she finally grabbed hold and I swung her to safety. Then I gave her audible instructions to get moving out of danger.
“Get going, little one,” I commanded. “Get out of here and get on with your life,” I added. And off she went. As I turned on the water I saw her running up the wall toward the ceiling vent, no doubt her safe haven, at least until I finished my shower and she could get her tub back.
While taking my shower I couldn’t help but think about the predicaments we all get into occasionally during our adventure through life. We sometimes get stuck in a place, both physically and mentally, that we don’t want to be in. We want to get out and move on with our lives, but sometimes it’s so difficult we don’t exactly know how. We need help. We need a sympathetic friend to give us a little dental floss we can grab onto until we obtain the necessary courage to get going again and to move on.
One of the part’s of Buddhism’s Eightfold Path is “right effort.” Defined more precisely, right effort means working diligently to develop the skill to avoid dukkha (frustration and suffering), caused by our selfish desire, anger and ignorance. In short, that means “don’t get mad or discouraged . . . try, try again.”
Every life is precious, and that certainly includes your own. Don’t think about what you lack in ability or what you don’t have in material possessions. Chances are you already have what you need. And you’re more capable than you think. The spider incident reminded me of a crazy poem I latched onto when I was a kid. It was performed by Ish Kabibble, a nearly-forgotten radio comic during the early 40s, and I’ve never forgotten it.
Little spider on the wall,
You ain’t got no hair at all.
You ain’t got no comb to comb your hair.
What do you care, you ain’t got no hair.
The moral? Be thankful for the things you don’t need as well as the things you have. Things like good friends you can count on in times of need . . . and the things we take for granted, like a warm shower, a little dental floss and the selfless desire to share what we do have . . . with creatures big and small.