EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE OKAY: All sentient beings, great and small

I’ve officially gone cuckoo. It’s been coming for a while. But the minute I grabbed a plastic cup and a napkin and headed to the garage, it was confirmed. I was off to rescue a spider.

Yes, a spider.  

I’m afraid of spiders. Just like my dad was. A man grown increasingly gentle with the passage of time, my dad loved most creatures, great and small. Except spiders and flies. He could handle a fly swatter as well as his hero Mickey Mantle handled a bat. I don’t remember him killing spiders with it that he came across in the house, but he must have, albeit with a bit more trepidation than he did his fly foes. I find suddenly I cannot. Kill a spider.

Virginia Buckingham

When did this happen? And why?

Back to the spider rescue. The spider did not consider itself at risk, thus my “rescue” is a bit of arachnid hyperbole. It was just hanging out, literally, in the garage, right next to the button we push to open and close the door. Having a button to open and close the garage is a brand-new experience that came along with the life-improving pleasure of having a garage for the first time in my almost 58 years. Raining? No problem, the car is IN THE GARAGE!

The other day I went to push the garage button and eeek, right there next to it was a gigantic, sinister, poisonous-looking creature. How big? Well, imagine a dime and then put the dime under a magnifying glass until it reaches silver dollar proportions. Or. Imagine a dime. Trust me, it was scary looking.

What to do? Never use the garage again? I ran through the possibilities and decided, no, in woman versus spider I would simply dispatch the insect with a thwack of a folded-up newspaper. My dad would be so proud.

But I couldn’t do it. The spider didn’t know this was our first garage. Or that the button was adjacent to that nifty silken string it was napping on.

I needed a plan B. Thus, the plastic cup and napkin. David asked what I was doing and commented it was an act befitting of Papa Bucky. I didn’t remind him spiders and flies weren’t among those my dad had a soft spot for. But each generation is supposed to be an improvement on the last, no?

Alas, as I crept into the garage ready to capture and then release the cute, amazingly now shrunken to a dime-sized little being, its spot was empty. Had it intuited my earlier evil intention? I craned my neck and yes, there it was up against the ceiling, having a good little laugh for itself. A ladder lay nearby but there were limits to my altruism, such as keeping my bones intact.

I’m not a student of Buddhism though some day I’d like to be. In some Buddhist teachings, the concept of sentience, awareness, is not just reserved for those that are capable of thought and can respond to sensation. Rather sentient beings can be anything that shares consciousness, even spiders.

Recently, we relocated a giant hydrangea plant that was full of glorious blooms from the bottom of our steps to the corner of the house. It was not happy, as anyone who observed its drooping leaves could plainly see. The kind contractor who was working in the front took care to keep it watered. A normal reaction.

I approached it and stroked its leaves and apologized for the disruptive move. Yup, I have officially lost it. Dad would be proud.

Virginia Buckingham
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A member of the Marblehead Current’s Board of Directors, Virginia Buckingham is the former chief executive officer of the Massachusetts Port Authority, chief of staff to two Massachusetts governors, deputy editorial page editor for the Boston Herald and author of “On My Watch: A Memoir.” 

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