I’m a worrier. I never thought I was, but it’s been brought to my attention that I am.
Sometimes, there are things that need to be worried about. Like snakes.
There is something supremely icky to me about snakes. Growing up in Texas, one learns about the danger of snakes at an early age. Aside from the small garter snakes we find in the garden in the spring, I haven’t actually seen many in the wild. After a visit to the zoo once, however, and being amazed at how many snakes I was unable to spot right under my nose because of their incredible camouflage, I know they’re out there.
And it’s even worse than I thought.
A few weeks ago I read two articles I haven’t been able to shake. The articles were both about Burmese pythons killing off native animals such as racoons, bobcats, opossums, and rabbits in the Florida Everglades. We’re not talking minor decreases in these populations either, we’re talking numbers as high as a 90% decrease in some of the animal populations.
Other than the obvious environmental impact, I can’t help but wonder 1) who keeps pythons as pets, and 2) who is sick enough to let them slither out into the wild?
Does anyone else find these reports somewhat alarming? I don’t live in Florida, but I know these types of things have a way of spreading. If I did live in Florida, and anywhere near the Everglades, I probably wouldn’t step foot outside my house after dark for the remainder of my life.
I was a Girl Scout and have spent years camping around the country, and snakes aren’t something I worry about too much. They’re generally shy and do their best to stay away from people. But a python? I have visions of 20 ft long snakes as thick as a human body hanging from the trees, slithering under porches and hiding in garbage cans, ready to swallow me whole. <shiver, or should I say slither?>
It gets worse. When I searched for a photo of a python to include here, just to give you an idea of their true size, I came across another article in a blog that states there are now pythons in Kansas. I was right, they are already spreading. As if tornadoes aren’t enough to worry about out on the Great Plains!
This certainly goes into the I Had No Idea file.
The other day I was in the front flowerbed, surveying some of the stalks for signs of life after a colder than usual winter, amazed that tiny leaves are starting to sprout. I had the thought that no matter what, things want to grow. Ever since I quit my job almost a month ago life around me seems to be thriving. Even an indoor plant that has barely clung to life for the past five years has inexplicably decided to shoot up a single large white flower.
I can’t explain it. Maybe I don’t need to. It’s as if once I made the decision to leave my dead-end job years of stifled and stunted energy had to be released and regenerated. Demeter is smiling down on me, and my life is fertile once again–in the garden, at least. Who would’ve thought?
Oh, it gets even stranger. Two weekends in a row now I’ve had dreams of snakes. Small snakes. That bite me. We’ve found three snakes in the garden so far, and the other day I found a snake skin in the new wildflower garden I planted. I went online and found a great blog post about snake medicine and another woman’s experience with snakes showing up in her life, too. Then yesterday, in the middle of boring test prep, a student interrupted and asked if I had heard about “the snake that escaped from the zoo.” I had to stop and blink a few times before I could process what he had just said.
I know, I know. It’s spring, snakes are out there, people dream about them all the time, and some even escape from zoos. Still, it all seems somewhat synchronous. Have I suddenly manifested all of these snakes in my life and my dreams, or am I merely aware of what has always been there? Now that I’ve made this major change in my life, am I simply tapping into a universal symbol, part of Jung’s “collective unconscious” made manifest? I’ve always loved the idea of a collective unconscious, that no matter how different we all are there is a network of understanding that speaks to us all in the language of symbols, images, and archetypes.
I woke up this morning with that same thought again. Things want to grow. No matter how much of an idiot I am in the garden, or in my job, or in my relationships with others, things change and grow and renew despite my own best/worst efforts. I think everyone senses this, even if they aren’t strong enough to make a major change in their own lives. I’ve been surprised by so many friends and colleagues telling me how much they admire me for quitting my job, and most of them seem almost wistful when they tell me this. Perhaps it’s the idea of change that’s so scary to us, even more than the actual reality of that change–kind of like the monster under the bed that kept our arms and legs tucked safely under the covers when we were kids.
Since I’m still teaching until June, my own Personal Big Change hasn’t happened yet. Or has it? Already I’m looking at the world differently, and things are good. Paralleling my new found fertility in the garden, I’m feeling more creative these days. I’m calmer, too. Like the little snake skin I found left behind in the flowerbed the other day, I’m moving on, leaving a lot of stuff behind–and that’s a good thing.