True story - I used to live by the beach and it was damp pretty much all the time. A thick marine layer was ever present. So every morning when I would get up to take my son to preschool, there were these snails all over the driveway. This vexed me. It was an issue. I couldn’t just back out the car and crush them all.
Now I get that snails are not great for a garden but that is where they live. So I was in a quandary. I sat in the driver’s seat for awhile and forced myself into quiet reflection. “I must move the snails.”
This is where the very different parts of me come into alarming conflict. I am an efficiency expert (self appointed, of course) but I hate being inefficient. Drives me batty. So removing snails from the drive way every day was something I was going to have to reckon with...
For just a moment I wished I was the kind of person who didn’t even notice the snails. That I could just go about my life and not think about the tiny snails that were currently making me late.
But, alas, I am not that person. I can ascribe and appoint feelings to everything: trees, other people, and snails, apparently.
So I got the kids out of the car (totally inefficient because getting small children strapped in was not an easy task in those days) and we “rescued” snails. It became our new morning routine.
After awhile, some mornings I would forget, but my kids didn’t. "MOMMY! DON'T FORGET ABOUT THE SNAILS." And out of the car we would go.
My neighbors would come out and watch me and roll their eyes. They thought I was certifiably insane. And maybe I am. But truly, what I was doing was valuing life. I was teaching my kids to value all life in its various forms and I was practicing compassion. Yes, for snails. Because compassion doesn’t require that the subject be worthy, human or particularly interesting, compassion only requires that for a moment you drop the storyline that is constantly running in your mind, telling you how important you are and how busy and vital your schedule and plans are. Compassion simply allows you to get away from all of that and to place yourself in the position of another and for a moment see that perhaps you are pretty blessed and that perhaps this other you are considering is not.
My kids and I would continue moving snails until all the snails were safely back in the yard. We took our time, we didn’t chuck snails into the grass or flower beds, we carefully removed them and then placed them on safer ground. When I got home, I had to do the whole process over because while a snail’s pace may seem slow to us, those little buggers were all over the driveway again every single time.
This is one of my most favorite memories of being a mother. And I will forever recall it as being one of my best examples and teachings for my kids. Everyone matters, everything matters...no exceptions, not even for snails.