Joy

This human reality will never please me, and that’s OK. I find joy in my own way.

When I’m at work scrubbing pots and see a cricket jump in the corner of the floor drain, trying to find sanctuary, I immediately pause my work. I squat down and extend my finger, an olive branch. I do this with spiders, moths, beetles and whatever other tiny being appears to be in distress when I’m cleaning.

Sometimes I think about how they perceive a human finger. Do they know it is attached to a human? Do they know what a human is? Do they know they are inside a building with fluorescent lights? Have they ever seen the sun? Are they terrified? How do they perceive the rushing water and wind from the high pressure hose? Do they want to be in another place? Do they want to be extracted from this situation? As a level six ethical vegan, I follow the philosophy of non-interference in the affairs of non-human animals and all other sentient beings, unless there is immediate suffering that I can prevent without shifting the balance of nature and affecting the timelines. In this case, I believe there is cause for intervention.

So I extend my index finger and the gray moth lying belly up on the floor suddenly comes to life. Her tiny legs cling to me. I smile and suddenly forget about how much I hate my boss. There are more important things in life. I stand up and pull my fingers into a loose fist, with the moth sitting on top of my knuckle. She opens her wings to shake off the water. I whisper to the moth and assure her that she is going to be OK. I walk around the drying racks and pull the rolling garage door over my head with my other hand. Cold, dry air and natural light fill the soil room. I breathe in the desert morning then place the moth on some sagebrush and feel a simple joy from reducing the suffering of one little, tiny being.

In a world of wanton cruelty, I see this as an act of rebellion. And I’m a soul rebel.

———

I feel a similar sense of joy when I go for a walk at the nature preserve and see a glimpse into the simple, private lives of chipmunks and geese.

Watching a chipmunk wag his bushy little tail and play with a piece of long grass that glows gold in the morning light gives me so much pleasure. What worries the chipmunk? Does he think constantly of imminent attacks from hawks? Or does he play carefree with his friends and jump between boulders during the warm daylight hours, then retreat to his hole at night to cuddle with his family during the freezing nights? Does he think about the exploitation of labor? Does he think about how much he has to save up to buy a house?

I always hear the geese before seeing them. Their honking carries across the rocky terrain. The flying “V” is broken into two distinct pieces, with the leading group working in perfect coordination to reduce wind resistance for those behind. I always feel like waving my hat in the air or saluting these magnificent animals, like they are a highly decorated air force squadron returning victorious from war, but instead I just watch and listen. They fly over my head and I hear the delicate squeak they make when breathing during vigorous flight. I’ve never noticed that before.

As they fly into the distance, the flock becomes fluid. The geese are no longer individuals, just black dots against a clear blue sky. The dots dance and their shape morphs constantly. The flying “V” ebbs and flows like the tide.

I thank the animals for showing me the simple joy of living.

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