I had a surprise waiting for me in my workshop this morning. On a table where odds and ends are kept is a pail with a plastic top that’s full of rat poison. We’ve had a wet summer and this might be the reason the rats are keeping near the house. Whatever the reason I don’t want these varmints in or near us. Several weeks ago I bought the rat poison and placed some in strategic areas of the workshop. Since then I’ve found two bodies so I know it’s working. However, today, to my shock the lid of the pail with the poison had been eaten through and there was a rat size hole! I took the lid off and much of the poison had been nibbled on along with rat feces. Yuck!
I’m not sure why it was a surprise to me except that I knew it was poison. The whole point is that the rats smell something which entices them to eat. They have no idea its poison. To them, it simply tastes good. For me, knowing it’s poison means I wear gloves when I open it, place it in the desired area, and seal it tightly when finished. I wash my hands after I am anywhere near the stuff. The difference between me and the rat is I know it kills.
I reflected on this today as I finished up the yard work and came inside. Many of the things we crave; attention, respect, fortune, fame, come with a high price. Wisdom teaches us to not get caught up in the cravings. From our point of view, we wonder; “What’s the harm?” but from those who know, it’s a truth which could save our lives.
Yesterday, I arrived home to find a flock of Turkey Buzzards (or Turkey Vultures) inhabiting my front yard and circling overhead. Immediately I knew there was something dead nearby and the scavengers had found their afternoon meal. Luckily for me, not for the animal, it had been hit by a vehicle across the street.
Pulling into my driveway I sounded my truck horn to try to get the birds to scatter but apart from a few of them fluttering their wings I was mostly ignored. After parking I tried shooing them away by yelling and exaggerated posturing but they remained unconcerned. Their attention was on the meal being served not the crazy man making strange noises and acting even stranger. I gave up and went inside but every so often I would hear a driver honk their vehicle’s horn, rev the engine, threatening to run them over but the birds weren’t leaving until their appetite was satisfied.
Later I reflected upon the birds and the sign they were to me that something rotten was nearby. I wondered if, when we had an unpleasant habit, a putrid attitude, a relationship that was dying, a miserable personality, it would be helpful if a flock of menacing fowl would begin to follow us around. We’d be alerted and understand that the birds would only leave when what’s attracted them is removed.
Unfortunately, too often we’re the ones indulging, gorging ourselves on our cravings, rotten prejudices, stuffed egos, slanderous words, harmful actions, bitterness and self-pity.
Wisdom teaches us that self-awareness and humility are what keep us from becoming prey to, and becoming one of, the scavengers which seek to feast on our souls.