from my archives: ladybug kindness

{While I'm in Thailand, I am republishing favorite posts from my archives every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. This post was originally published 5/18/12.}

At the beach on Sunday, we were lounging around and suddenly Remy called me to say he'd found a ladybug.

There "she" was, on a shell, with one wing out (obviously damaged, tho I didn't explain that more to him except to say that she couldn't fly anymore, I didn't think). I couldn't really tell what was wrong, except that her wing wouldn't retract back under her shell.

We watched her for awhile. We let her crawl on our arms. We were gentle with her and marveled at how amazing she was.

And then it was time to think about what to do next. I couldn't just leave her there in the sand. Even though I didn't think her wing was going to recover (and I have no idea where in her adult lifespan she was), I couldn't just leave her there. I didn't want to bring her home to die, either.

I asked Remy if he'd like to help me take her to the dunes, where at least there was grass (which might have aphids she could feed on).

He agreed. We walked her over to the dunes and said goodbye and left her to her end (or beginning if she'd be able to heal) on the grass. In the green, in the shade, where there was cover and potential mates. And potential death, for death is everywhere for a ladybug with a broken wing. Death is everywhere, for everyone, really. We just choose to ignore that fact while we can.

I'm not one to prolong unnecessary suffering, but in this case I had no idea what the ladybug felt or needed. And so I did the best to show my compassion towards the littlest. Just like Horton had. Kindness even when it isn't necessarily the easiest course of action. (Not that walking to the dunes was all that much trouble, but I know not many people would do that much for a wounded ladybug.)

It's easy being kind to a ladybug, they're harmless. Extending that courtesy to bugs who are not as striking or who bite is more difficult, but by starting at where we are comfortable, we can learn to broaden our circle of compassion.

And this practice can continue all our lives, if we are diligent. We continue widening the circle until we can include everyone. Every little biting flea. Every spec of dust upon which a world resides.

May all beings practice kindness.
May all beings know peace is possible.
May all beings be freed from suffering.

This prayer formula is an example of mettā, which is a Buddhist lovingkindness meditation. I often recite these three lines with endings specific to the situation at hand. I have ended each of my ebooks with a mettā formula.

Mettā is one of the most life changing practices I know of. I feel blessed that I read about it at a very young age (in my late teens) because it has comforted me and expanded me throughout my adult life. I am not Buddhist (I am Jewish, by choice) but I believe mettā - lovingkindness - extends into and through all religions (and into and through atheism, as well).

We must all cultivate kindness, first towards our selves and then towards our families. We must all find a way to extend that kindness to the world, if we are to get ourselves out of the traps of suffering that (the collective) we have created.

A note on ladybugs: obviously I cannot tell whether this specific ladybug is male or female. But because of the name in English, I'm inclined to use the female pronoun and so I do.