It’s hot out there. Mornings are still cool enough that I can breathe, but barely. Walking around the neighborhood is best done just after the sun rises. There’s little traffic, and the moms with strollers are still at home, older walkers are not stirring yet, and dogs are snuggling in bed with their sleeping masters. It’s quiet, and despite the raging heat, it’s a good time to ponder on things that are rattling around in my head.
About the only obstacle to my musings are the automatic sprinklers. Most of the time I hear a loud hiss before they turn on and I can dodge the sprays. Sometimes, especially after I’ve been walking for a while, I intentionally pass through a cool shower of water.
These impromptu hose downs can also be a catalyst for contemplating the meaning of life.
Consider the marooned earthworm. Sprinklers wash worms out of their lawns and onto the rapidly heating sidewalks. The water shuts off, and the little wigglers’ tiny pools of water evaporate, leaving them stranded, prey to the sun and humidity.
It’s sad to see them writhing on the concrete. A worm fan from way back, I try to rescue as many of them as I can, gently scooping them up and resting them in the still damp, cool grass. Liberating these small creatures makes me feel like I’m helping my karma.
Karma is fundamental in Hindu and Buddhist spiritual practices. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, the basic premise is that karma can be affected by good deeds or bad deeds in your present life, and progress toward prefect fruition in future lives, or incarnations. As attractive as the idea of instantaneous retribution or reward is, it doesn’t work that way. The karma you are building today, may not catch up with you for generations.
Both philosophies are also very mindful of the sanctity of life, all life… even earthworms.
Sometimes when I place a rescued worm back into the moist dirt, I wonder about the consequences of that action. I wonder if all living creatures do experience a rebirth after death, and if we all strive toward enlightenment through reincarnation, did saving that worm set into motion some fated greatness.
What if saving that worm allows it to continue on its destined cosmic journey. Then, in its eventual embodiment, that worm exists as the person who cures cancer, or brings about world peace. Did I have a hand in that? Had I left that worm to succumb to the elements, would its journey have ended too soon, or if by changing the course of its life, did saving that worm detrimentally altered its destiny.
What of the turtles I’ve moved out of traffic, or that Japanese beetle or Ladybug that I have caught inside my home and released back into the wild? Did I create a tsunami with the flutter of a butterfly wing?
These are the things I ponder during my solitary walks.