Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Culling the herd

For a couple of years in elementary school, I was "horse crazy." I read Black Beauty and National Velvet, and collected little china horses, so when my dad offered to take me horseback riding, I jumped at the chance. I climbed onto the back of a huge, solemn-faced mare with visions of galloping into the sunset, but the horse didn't move. I kicked and kicked but I couldn't seem to get her attention, and finally, the horse simply rolled over and shook me off her back. I screamed. My dad laughed, and he said, "You feel as light as a fly to her. You tickled her and she just shrugged you off her back."

I remember those words, and have often used them to understand the way our Goddess Earth must feel about us: tiny, light, like little flies on her back. If we become annoying to her, she has only to shrug her shoulders, and we will tumble off.

This soothes me when I worry that humans will somehow damage the Earth. She may be changed by us, but she cannot be damaged by us. And I think that perhaps, as human numbers swell and our impact unbalances her children, she will indeed shrug us off.

What better way to accomplish this than with her smallest children: viruses and bacteria and fungae. My experience with the exponentially-growing Lyme Disease is one example of the many ways Earth has to cull the herd with these little critters. Infectious disease is an excellent way to re-balance humanity without harming the rest of the planet or our animal or plant friends. It does not feel violent to me. One can only surrender.

Of course, I do expect to recover completely from Lyme. I'll get a flu shot again this fall. I'll eat well and I don't smoke. I practice safe sex. I hope to avoid cancer or other diseases, but it's an interesting thought, isn't it? That the Goddess Earth has this method at her disposal, and it might just do us all good in the end?