Undertaker's Daughter

My life and death as spiritual path.

Location: River City, Northern California

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Lord of The Flies

Did ya ever have something so awful that you had to write about it but it still made you feel awful when you went back to reconsider in tranquility and all that rubbish one is supposed to do when thoughtfully composing that you just couldn't bear it?

Hmmm. . . thought not.

Ok, this may not even seem all that much to you and I'm certain it is going to come under the category of Too Much Information, but that is an appropriate category for most of this blog so here goes.

The other night a fly got in my bedroom. Sigh goes round the world of Big Effin Deal!

You need more info. For one thing in the immortal words of Woodie Allen, this was indeed a fly the size of a Buick. And my bedroom is an invalid's bedroom complete with not exactly open commode, but not exactly hermetically sealed either. The sort of thing one tries not to remember too closely while one is sleeping, but the presence of a huge raggedy ass, too fat to fly fast, but too old to kill easily, monstrous-metaphor-of-death fly hovering over one of its favorite food-- outside of carrion-- human fecal products, is not conducive to calm and peaceful rest.

Told you there would be waaay too much info. Emily D. took the incident, frequent in her life sitting by the dead, and imbued it with a transcendant practicality.

I heard a fly buzz when I died;
The stillness round my form
Was like the stillness in the air
Between the heaves of storm.

Not I. I went berserk. In all the levels of self-pitying panic that shred personal integrity and respect. You know, the scene-- geeze, I hope you do, it's true, I am the only one who does this.

[get a grip-- angelic intervention]

Why me, why me, not now, I can't take this after a day like this. When on earth isn't it a day like this, I always hurt more at night. He'll lay maggot eggs on the carpet by my bed, I can't bear it, not this, this I absolutely can't bear. Note the assumption of gender-- how could He lay any eggs? Can I actually sex a fly by a squeamish sidelong glance??

Well, I tried to kill him. Like I say he was fat and slow-- much like me. But a bunt was the best I could do and he laughed that off. Though I bet it hurt. Certainly slowed him down-- down so he could concentrate on where I would lay my head once I got into bed.

Time to try all the nonsense bits-- I lit lights outside the bedroom door. Into the hall-- lure him away into brighter more festive areas, I thought. I almost crashed the wheelchair in the dark. He wasn't having any. It smelled so tasty in there. It did too, if you like the rank odors of sickness and death which, of course, blossomed in the rain.

[more overhyperbole but she was round the bend by this time--AI]

Finally, I tired out. I hadn't taken my drugs for the night, it hurt like hell-- I still had to remake the bed and get the lumps out, which was the main hellish task I thought I had to accomplish, now it seemed laughably easy next to dealing with Satan's minion. [we will come back to this interesting development in a later blog-- the whole association of flies and hell, but for now, suffice it to say I was muttering This is hell, quite often.]

About an hour had passed. I plugged my chair in-- thus giving me less time to charge it than normal, a constant worry, and more time I had to spend locked in there with that fiend. [once the plug goes in, the cell door has slammed shut]

There was only one real alternative. The fly could not remain a fiend. It was possible. I knew that from my earlier contact with a rat in the same bedroom, back in my more pristine days, when I could still walk and sleep in more than one bedroom.

Short interlude to tell Rat Tale:

About six months after my new lovely cathedral ceilinged bedroom was completed, I began hearing noises in the walls. I laughing referred to them as my rats in the walls and let them go. All the neighborhood cats love to climb my bay window and play on my roof at night, and the owls have a tendency to hunt from the rotting palm tree in the corner of the lot. Note: if you love owls and I do with a passion, leave rotting palm trees alone, they are quite hard to burn, and owls find them a perfect nesting place. I've had at least two beautiful couples live there-- lost one when I stupidly trimmed the tree. There is nothing like watching a pair of owls swoop circles against a full moon in autumn.

Ok, rats in the walls -- nothing but a slightly gothic tone to my evenings. Just like the rustle under the bed when I reached for the bag of chips that had fallen were a slightly heightened imagination that's all. He was about a foot or maybe less from my hand as I groped blindly in the dark, that's what I keep thinking. Now.

Then one night, Ratty got brave and ran across my rather large altar-- knocked some things over. I screamed. He ran back. I screamed some more. He ran into the closet and up into the crawl space into the attic. The one the contractors swore nothing could get through. Guess they'd never been that much of a rat.

He was a warm brown and slightly kittenish but still a rat. I brought my dogs into the bedroom-- from which they are usually off-limits because of my allergies-- and he stayed away the rest of the evening. Like two chihuhua's and a French Bulldog were much of a threat. I supposed they smelled dangerous.

Next day, my pest control took over. And it helped that I could tell them exactly where to put the bait. I moved into the back bedroom for the interim.

The end occurred when Jimmy, my black chihooey, uttered a tiny mechanical growl, very tenative. Note, I have a big house, there are two large rooms and a hall between my new bedroom and my old one-- not in a straight line. Ratty had crawled-- painfully, agonisingly crawled through all that huge space to the foot of my bed-- on the floor, not on the bed, this story would have been very different if that boundary had been horrifyingly crossed.

Maybe he was blindly inching towards the light but I think, in his last moments, he craved companionship, any kind, even the killing kind, rather than die alone. I know, I'm too weird. But why else would he go into a room full of dogs?

It was late afternoon-- all of us were tired from not much rest the night before. All of us, canine and primate, simply stared at this tiny dying creature. No one budged to look closer at the mystery-- and mystery it was indeed. Finally I got up to see if he was still alive.

He was, and proved it by heaving his tiny body, whose heart was literally breaking, another quarter inch. Towards the trees outside the large windows.

I bent over and gazed into Ratty's eyes. They no longer looked rat-like. They looked alarmingly human. I am perfectly serious abut this, I will never forget his eyes. And their message was so penetratingly clear.

Lady, I'm dying as fast as I can.

Which was not fast enough for either of us-- him because of agony, me because of sudden grief. The kind that explodes your whole body and soul.

I don't want this to sound too utterly stupid and fuzzy-minded. Maybe there is no real way to avoid that. The truth is: At that moment, I truly understood the Universality of Suffering as a Fact of Life.

And that particular Noble Truth binds all sentient beings together in a web where there is no evil rat threatening my peace, no superiority of human existence, no blame either for wanting to proect my bedroom-- I would exterminate the rat again.

That doesn't eliminate this Absolute Connection of Universal Suffering that made Ratty and Me and all the rest of the World, from stars to rock, one.

In the Buddhist canon, a teacher, actually, anyone, who makes this Truth a living reality to a Seeker, becomes for that Seeker, a Root Guru, a Wisdom Being who has passed on a fact of enlightenment. And neither of us need be enlightened-- I ain't, though I'm not sure about the rat-- for this to happen.

So, end of long Rat Story, my only sure Root Guru is that Rat. He didn't have a name till this story was written here. I think he wears the nomenclature from Wind in the Willows well.

To return to the Fly, no, he is not a Root Guru, but I gave him the option to be one. It's harder. I listed for myself why I couldn't easily slip into that Bodhisattva mode. Insects versus mammals-- yeah, makes sense, there are levels of sentience in the Buddhist world and I'm not sure insects pass the main test. But I'm not a strict Buddhist and I believe sentience exist in quarks all the way through rocks, sand, sea, stars, amoebas-- if it exists, if it is a part of creation then it is touched by divinity and bears not only sentience but grace. God and grace aren't exactly Buddhist terms either. I still stand by my heretical Bodhisattva oath though, so there.

And if I do, then it applies to the fly. So here's how I got to sleep. I let him live in that I stopped trying to kill him that night-- and he still bangs against the windows in the family room, damn, how long does a fly live anyway? I offered him my suffering, such as it was, and the understanding I had dredged from it the hard way that night, as an offering of merit so that he wouldn't come back as a fly.

[she doesn't believe in reincarnation all the time either. AI]

I asked for kindness in that he wouldn't buzz my face, and asked further, if he could, not to return to my bedroom. I didn't put any of these requests as ultimatums-- the fly got my merit, however tiny or big, anyway. I have always wanted to face god as Therese of Lisieux did, empty-handed, having given everything away to others who needed it, asking only for the goodness and love that is god.

I turned out the lights. There was no buzzing sound, there was no brush of wings. I slept.


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