On whispering to flies

Everyone gets flies in the house from time to time, and we’re no exception. Sure, we’ve got screens on our windows but in one way or another, flies appear inside. Sometimes they find their way in from below, finding a hole or gap in the floor after having bidden goodbye to a dead mouse or other small rodent that’s died under the house. Those flies are the biggest, noisiest and most annoying.

And yet, as annoying as they are, I don’t like to kill flies. In general, I don’t like to kill anything, although I will make an exception for an aggressive mosquito. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become increasingly sensitive to mosquito bites, which nowadays produce large, swollen welts that itch like crazy for four or five days. But flies? They’re annoying, and the devil knows where they’ve been and what they’ve been eating, but at least they don’t bite.

It doesn’t help much to just leave a door or window open hoping a fly will leave of its own accord. To the contrary, when I’ve tried that it’s just resulted in welcoming in more flies, or even worse, mosquitoes. Instead, I’ve been perfecting The Art of Fly Whispering.

There are all sorts of animal whisperers out there: Dog Whisperers, Horse Whisperers, even Alpaca and Chicken Whisperers. All these people have developed a talent for establishing intimate communication with animals, to calm them, control them, or simply to interact with them in one way or another. Their interaction appears to be well more than simply dominance and submission; something else is at play, something that seems deeper and more fundamental, a special sort of interspecies communication at a primal level. The indigenous people of The Americas, the Turtle, Bear, Wolf, and Heron Clans for example, appreciated that opportunity and their bond with all of nature.

So it is, given my aversion to killing, that I’ve been cultivating my own particular skills. The first step is to marshal my good intentions, to summon what we Buddhists call Bodhicitta, awakening the mind with wisdom and compassion for the benefit of all sentient beings, including flies. In common terms, it’s developing a loving attitude towards another living thing.

I then approach the fly, which has landed on a window, and begin speaking very quietly. “Hi there little one, don’t worry, I won’t hurt you. I’m here to help you get outside. Let me help you. Don’t be scared.” While saying and thinking this, I reach out slowly towards the fly, which hopefully relaxes, but sometimes moves away from my fingers; if so, I keep talking. “I know this is scary. You’ll be fine,” I continue, fingers getting closer as the fly stops moving. Finally, I gently grasp the fly between my thumb and first two fingers, walk to a door, and release it outside. It always feels good.

None of us knows where life energy goes once it leaves the body. It could join the reservoir of life energy that envelops the earth, or it could become transferred to emerging life and become transformed into matter. What we do know is that neither matter nor energy can be destroyed, only transformed.  I’m not suggesting that I believe in reincarnation, but nonetheless it can’t hurt to be careful; after all, there is the possibility, however remote, that one of those flies that visited our home contained the life energy of my late great uncle Lou.

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