I don’t know if I fully believe in Karma, but I'm not about to take any chances. If we get back everything we give, then it’s best to avoid causing pain, death or injury to any living things. Does killing insects count, too? And what about germs and micro-organisms? Algae on the pool? I’ll try not to worry about the death of germs, micro-organisms and algae, but insects surely must have feelings and therefore register somewhere on the Karma Meter. Why take the chance of becoming a stain on someone’s ceiling in my next life? So, I've made a pact. No personal and intentional killing – and that includes everything as far down the food chain as insects. I've been known to capture mosquitoes, moths, daddy-longlegs, spiders, beetles and flies to release them unscathed.
The other night my husband brought in wood for our wood-burning heater. He brought in some extra logs for later and left them in the wood box next to the heater. We were happily watching our Richmond Tigers get trounced by Collingwood Magpies in Aussie Rules Footie, when I heard a thumping noise.
Upon inspection, we discovered our two Labradors merrily jumping on and eating a couple spiders. Now I’m not particularly afraid of spiders. I just avoid them, or move them if they’re in the wrong place. But this time I was concerned because Bryndal, our yellow lab, is pregnant and I don’t expect that eating spiders could be good for her health.
Then my husband made the offhand comment from the entry hall nearby, “Look at this.” To my shock there were at least twenty spiders on the wall. Not cute little ones, but long-legged nasty ones that could run like the wind.
It was like a bad horror movie come true. The spiders were all near the front door and moving rapidly into the house. It crossed my mind that the spiders might be seeking shelter from some natural disaster that was about take place. I’d heard insects, birds and animals can sense these things. Was a tsunami on the way? An earthquake? An asteroid about to crash into our backyard, or a volcano erupt nearby? I looked at the crack under the door expecting to see them pouring in, but no, they weren’t coming from there.
There were no lights on in the living room but I could see the carpet moving – shadows running hither and yon. Then I felt something in my hair and brushed out a spider so large it made a resounding thump when it hit the wall.
I think that’s when the panic hit and I started to believe it was an invasion. Karma be damned. This was war.
“Get the swat!” I yelled. “I'll get the spray.”
Together my husband and I went to work. I was even more shocked when I looked at the ceiling. It was covered. They were hanging there – just waiting to fall in my hair again.
It took several minutes and almost a can of spray before the bulk of the killing was done. Dead spider bodies lay shriveled or twitching on the carpet and on the wood of the hall floor. Spider remains were splattered on walls, furniture and ceilings. And just when we thought it was safe to put our weapons away, another would run out from behind a bookcase or the curtains. For hours we were yelling: “Over here!” “Here's one quick!”
At some point it occurred to me that the spiders must be coming from the logs my husband had brought in that day so we removed said logs to the front verandah.
Finally, with our hearts barely beginning to return to a normal rhythm, we collapsed into our lounge chairs and put down our weapons. This was not a movie set and there were no special effects. The death toll was high and we had the bodies to prove it.
Later that night, after cleaning up the carnage, my husband went through the logs we’d taken outdoors and found that one was hollow. After dropping it hard on the ground to break it open and watching dozens more spiders come pouring out, we were relieved to at least know the source of the plague and be grateful we were safe – at least for the night.
Now, however, in the cold light of day, I realize we’ll have to atone for our lapse in caring for other living creatures for at least eighty more lifetimes. I wonder if there’s some Karmic score keeper up there who might understand and give us a break?