The Death of a Moth
Metaphysical Message / Winter 2021
By: Susan Hansen
I watched a moth struggle today. As I went out-side, it was laying upon my deck and I could see its little wings trying to take flight. I hoped it was just resting but that was not the case. As I leaned down, I could hear the soft sound of its wings like leaves on a tree flapping in the wind as it desperately tried to get off the ground. I gently picked the moth up, whispered a little encouragement and laid it back down thinking that my act of kindness would somehow make it fly again.
I turned away telling myself that it was nature and perhaps the moth’s life was ending. Was it sick? Was the wing somehow damaged? Was it suffering? I really did not know but chose not to watch any longer, said a little prayer and went about my day.
A few hours later, the moth was dead. Its beautiful wings laying closed as if hands folded in prayer. I placed it on a soft leaf, the contrast of the white and grey moth vivid against the deep purple color felt picturesque as if sleeping on velvet.
I have long come to value all forms of life. Someone once told me that if something has a pulse then it can feel pain. I believe this to be true. When I was in my early 30’s I saw a spider in the shower and for some reason splashed water on it and watched as it struggled to stay alive. I immediately regretted what I did and picked the spider up and placed it upon the windowsill hoping it would live, but it did not. I have never since that day, purposely taken a life. (ok, maybe a few ants but I am a work in progress).
Some may say, who cares about a moth? But as I looked at the struggling little creature, I was reminded that everything and every life has a value. Perhaps I was attaching my own feelings of past struggle and the lack of ability at times to get my wings to fly. Who reading this has felt the same? Perhaps needing someone to come along and place us gently upon a soft surface to ease our suffering if just for a moment. For someone to take the time to notice us trying to fly and offering a prayer for our release. For someone to come along and just notice us. For an act of kindness.
As we enter yet another year, we look back on a lot of loss and suffering. Perhaps someone close to you (I lost my beloved father in July) died or suffered in some way. Maybe it was you that suffered. Seeing the upheaval on social media and the internal turmoil that has boiled over externally is enough for anyone with compassion to say, “we need more kindness in this world”.
We must be clear as a society as to our part in causing someone else’s suffering. If one chooses to eat animals, do you know the source and are they compassionate with the killing? We cannot any longer look the other way and instead look to the way of the Buddha with compassion towards all life. It is a universal truth that we take life to live. But we also hold a responsibility to how we treat others, and this includes animals and our planet.
What in your life is causing you to suffer or struggle? The one way we ease our suffering is not to resist what is in front of us. Whether that is a financial fear, a health scare, or a relationship crisis, we suffer because we are working against something and not flowing with it. What I deemed suffering with the dying moth was my own interpretation and not the moth’s and had more to do with me and my own internal struggles.
I happen to live in a place where I constantly see wildlife every day and I noticed a pack of deer running and playing the other day. One of the young deer was limping and I instantly worried for its safety. But then I watched as it followed behind the others and was eating and seemed unaware or unafraid for its hurt foot. The deer did not worry and simply went about its day doing what deer normally do. Of course, there may have been a level of physical pain but not the emotional pain that humans attach to suffering. We tend to suffer because we do not know when the pain will ease or go away. Even if there is a level of suffering or discomfort, if we allow the mind to take over, it will increase our worry. For example, if you have an injury and the doctor says,” well, you may feel pain for a while but in two weeks you will be back to normal”, would you worry as much about your suffering? Probably not as much or not at all. I have often talked about the battlefield of the mind. What you think directly affects how you respond and how you feel both emotionally and physically.
During the summer, on top of losing my dad, I came down with Shingles. I do not think I have ever experienced such physical pain in an exceptionally long time, and I wondered if or when it would go away. My doctor was very truthful and said it could last a few weeks or up to a year. Not an easy thing to hear! But somehow, I surrendered to the process and within 5 weeks, the pain totally left my body. But truth be told, I did not know when the pain would end. So, I chose not to overly dwell on it or let my mind take over and was even able to work through most of the ordeal. But I had to practice the art of surrender every day.
So, to you I say, lay down your burdens, your worries, and your cares about tomorrow. If something has come your way, you have a need for it in some way. Lay down your concerns for someone else, our economy and our planet. We waste too much time focused on others unnecessarily. Stay in your own lane and maintain your own inner power and calm. Be gentle with all forms of life. Meditate. Pray. Play. Give back in your own way. Practice the art of kindness. Remember, if you are suffering in some way right now, ask yourself what you are resisting or thinking about. It is most likely a mindset or perspective about something or someone and you have the power to change your way of thinking. In fact, that is the only thing you have control over!
Despite the chaos outside our doors, it is still a beautiful world, so be beautiful in it. And to you dear moth, I am glad your perceived struggle has ended, and may we all let go gracefully when our time is complete on earth.
Happy and abundant New Year my friends!