I don’t like death. I’m not ok with it. The Tao says if you don't fear death you can accomplish great things. I’m not only afraid of my own death and the death of my loved ones, I’m also afraid of any old run-of-the-mill death that I happen to come across along the way.
A few days ago my husband called me into the yard. There was an urgency in his voice. Get the cats, he said standing protectively over a tiny gray squirrel. It was an orphaned baby about 5 or 6 weeks old. We called him Lucky.
Lucky was so cute. As shaky as a toddler with bright, wide eyes, he could barely hop around. He came right up to me and nestled into my sweater grunting softly and curling into a ball. I fed him a warm formula of cow’s milk and whipping cream from a recipe I found online. Every four hours he sucked greedily from a small syringe. We made a cozy nest for him in a cat carrier. He seemed to be teething so I gave him pieces of wood to chew on. I rigged a log and a few small branches so he could practice climbing.
My cats were curious but didn’t try anything funny.
Lucky seemed to play happily in his new world but something was wrong. He would scamper on wobbly legs around the play area or fall asleep on my chest after feeding but when I put him back in his cage he seemed so small and alone. He was so adorable I couldn’t help falling in love with him but like any good parent, I started to worry. I didn’t want him to think he was a pet and I certainly didn’t want him to be ok with cats. Lucky needed other squirrels.
We found an animal rehabilitator in a nearby town who was caring for 12 other orphaned squirrels and we brought Lucky there. Linda showed us around and promised to keep us up-to-date on Lucky’s progress. I made a nice donation and we drove away a little choked up.
Yesterday, my husband came in from his morning walk in the local wildlife sanctuary. He had taken pictures of a red-tailed hawk standing on a fence with a fresh kill clutched in his talons, a baby squirrel.
So, we saved one and the hawk made breakfast of another. That’s nature. That’s the circle of life. The only problem is I’m not ok with it. I don’t want the hawk to starve. I admire the hawk but I also hate the hawk for killing cute little furry animals. Gray squirrels are certainly not endangered. Hawks have to eat too. I get it. I’m just not ok with it. It bothers me.
I love nature on the one hand but don’t want any part of it on the other. Nature is all about death.
I eat meat from the grocery store but can’t bear to think about how it got there. I know I will be one of the first to go when the world finally comes to an end because I have no idea how to feed myself and no stomach for hunting. If I had any sense, I would have skinned and eaten Lucky as a tasty snack, not gotten up at 5 o’clock in the morning to feed him. Lucky is a squirrel, not a child. A rodent, not a family member. What the hell!
How can I even call myself a human being if, after millions of years of evolution on a violent planet like this one, I still can’t agree with the laws of nature? Life and death. Eat and be eaten. I hate it. It’s gross and barbaric. Nature is cruel, harsh, and unforgiving.
It’s a big problem. I will never accomplish great things if this continues.