Last September, I learned a lesson in compassion…
I came across a winged insect–a dragonfly perhaps–stuck to my car, its wings pasted to the bumper by a puddle of collected raindrops. It’s six multi-jointed legs flapped madly in the breeze.
I detest insects. I loathe their segmented bodies and multifacted eyes. The transparent wings and crunchy carapace, the hairy mandibles and twitchy antennae–I get the hebbie jeebies just thinking of it. I hate arachnids most, but insects bug me too (pun not intended).
But at this particular moment, seeing the soft underbelly of this insect trying vainly to right itself, I felt a wave of compassion, not disgust. Why it mattered, I do not know, but I knew I could not let this creature suffer. So, I tore a small twig off a branch of a nearby tree and offered it to the dragonfly. It grabbed hold of a leaf at the end and we worked together to pull it out of the blob of water. I felt a strong sense of sense of communion and cooperation. I could feel its effort–the leaf trembled with the force of its pull, and I tried to be careful not to overpower its efforts with my greater strength. It was delicate, but it was interesting, watching it pull itself up as I carefully lifted it upwards. The suction of the water was strong, but it finally pulled out with a “pop” and it clambered frantically onto the surface of the leaf. I then carried it over to the tree and it stepped its way onto the trunk and began drying itself off. It was gone when I returned an hour later.
I felt and still feel good for having done this action; like I served the universe in some higher sense by transcending my baser, self-serving instincts to serve the needs of another.
The reason I am writing of this is because I wonder what moved me to feel pity and to act with commpassion towards a creature I have no regard for. Does my compassion mean anything in the grander scheme of the Universe? Will any good come from my good deed–or is it meaningful only to we two earthly beings?