Haunting Memories That Follow You Throughout Life
When I was very young, perhaps seven or eight years old, I did something that still haunts me. I say haunts me because it is a memory that I am not proud of. In fact, it is a memory that dances through my mind with shame. I work hard to avoid shame because I believe it hinders us, nevertheless, shame hangs in the air like a thundercloud, waiting to drop its payload upon me, at any moment. Yet, when I share this memory-an act that has become immortalized in my brain-I get mixed reactions. Some people do not understand my angst at all, but think me silly. Some people kind of understand, but seem unable to fully grasp why I cannot let the memory go. And some people join me in empathy, while no doubt remembering something they have done that pursues their waking or dreaming moments destined to rise up at any moment to remind them of their poor choice.
As a young child, I regularly awakened with the Sun to begin exploring. My explorations varied from day-to-day. On one day, I may spend hours reading through my collection of children’s books, “The Lorax”, “Green Eggs and Ham”, “Anatole”, to name a few. The books themselves have long since traveled to new little hands or fallen prey to time but I still have “Anatole”, which I read to my children. “Anatole and the Robot”, a book about the unwise decision of a Cheese-maker to replace Anatole, his chief taster, with a robot. Perhaps Monsanto should read this book to help him realize that creating something they believe is better actually creates more problems and can never truly replace something natural, something created by Nature and Time.
Other days, my explorations often took me outside to hunt. I hunted grasshoppers, ants, locusts (cicadas-we called them locusts), worms of many varieties, spiders … the list is long. How many days I engaged in the activity I am about to share, I am not entirely sure. Although it seems it was something that went on for many days, I remind myself that at seven years old, an hour can seem like a week and a week can seem like a month. Time feels different. It moves much slower.
I’m not sure how I came to know there was a can of Raid below our kitchen sink, but it became part of my experience. My fascination by the power it held-the power to destroy life by simply spraying it–moved me to action. I have pondered to a great degree what was really going through my mind and I am left with two vying opinions; one, watching something fade into death enthralled me to such a degree that I was numb to the delicate wonder of life itself; two, I was acting upon some inner hunting instinct, which I might add, has surfaced many times throughout my life and still lives within me to this day.
My sin was simple but laid an unwelcome memory upon me that seemingly will always remain , waiting for another chance to remind me of my infamous deed. Cut into our concrete driveway was a rectangular flower bed. I filled the flower bed with water until all manner of insect began climbing the wall of our house to escape the flood. My focus was on one particular insect, a spider, the Black Widow spider to be precise. I sprayer her and watched as she folded in on herself and eventually dropped out of sight into the flooded flower bed. I’m not certain how many times I performed this act because I know we had a healthy population of Black Widows living in and around our house, but I imagine it occurred between one and three times before something moved inside of me. Something that changed me forever.
At some point, during my last adventure using the magic poison, Raid, I knew that I was doing something wrong. I knew I was hurting something alive and causing it to give up its life. I knew that when she folded in on herself, it was not pleasant, but painful, like when I burned myself on the stove top. When, I came to the realization of what I had done really hit me, branding my psyche forever, I cannot say with any degree of accuracy. But the memory, the vivid memory of the Black Widow dying by my hand, still haunts me-a reminder that all life is precious and that I snuffed out something alive simply to satisfy a curiosity or a need to hunt.