my occasional musings on life, love, art, perfume ... what else is there?

10.01.2005

Be Careful What You Wish

A man made a daily trip to the restroom in his office, for the obvious reason. Each visit, he noticed a spider in the toilet, scrabbling up the side, barely missing being drowned each time the toilet was flushed.

The man felt sorry for the spider, day after day struggling against all odds to stay alive. Each day, he watched the spider's struggle and, each day, increasingly felt that he had to step in and do something. Something to help the spider.

Finally, one day during his visit, the man took a paper towel and carefully scooped the spider out of the toilet and placed him on the floor of the stall. He washed his hands and left the restroom, feeling good about himself.

The next day, he entered the stall and noticed the spider on the floor, dead.

Somehow, even with the best intention, the man had disturbed the natural balance of the spider's world. He imposed his human will on the spider's existence and the spider paid for it.

I'm interested in the idea that there is a moral ecology to our existences. And that even when we believe we are doing the right thing, sometimes by doing anything, we upset that ecology. When our actions aren't moral, the disturbance can be worse, the ripples we create in the pool of our and others lives are deeper and wider, the destruction more evident.

I believe in magic. And I think magic can be a form of superimposed will that inevitably doubles back on the one who attempts to wield it.

When I was in my early twenties, I was madly in love with a man who wasn't madly in love with me. I was willing to do anything -- sell my soul? -- to attract this guy back to me. In the miserable throes of unrequited love, I sought out a friend of a friend who insisted he could cast a spell that would make this happen.

I went to a small apartment in a bad part of town and sat through candlelit anointing and incantation, all the while not really believing anything would come of it.

I was wrong.

Within three weeks I was experiencing the absolute worst luck of my life. Name a part of my life and it was screwed: my apartment was damaged, I got into trouble at work, an important friendship fell apart, my car suddenly needed serious repair, I fell into one of the deepest funks of my life.

Oh, and the guy came back to me. In fact, repeatedly. I couldn't shake him, even when I finally realized he wasn't good for me and knew it was past time to end it.

I had taken steps to impose my will on the universe. But at what cost? The after-effects of problems that occurred during that three weeks lasted much longer than I ended up wanting that relationship to last. And I think this all resulted from my disturbance of my own moral ecology.

"Be careful what you wish." And be careful what you do to get what you think you want. The spider, his Good Samaritan and I learned our lessons.

Today's fragrance: L'Invisible from Strange Invisible Perfumes. And I'll tell you why tomorrow.

12 Comments:

Blogger Val said...

SUCH good advice. You have to be careful what you pray for (and pray specifically too!) I'm due w/ our 2nd child next month & told friends in passing "as long as we move before October or after the New Year, we could handle that"... and got the news last month that we're moving! Oops =/ So two weeks before our due date, iffy territory, we'll be packing up & taking off. But God is faithful & keeps an eye out, even for us schmucks. Thanks for reiterating an important lesson! =) I love your blog.

7:17 AM

 
Blogger Annieytown said...

Love spells never worked for me. I guess none of my friends were ever powerful enough or a guardian angel was whacking the spells as we were churning them out. You are a wise woman M.
Chances are I would have scooped the spider and taken him outside and placed him in a dark cool space. I could have never left him to live his life in a workplace toliet. No creature deserves that. Have a great sunday M!

8:17 AM

 
Blogger ParisLondres said...

Yes, we all need to be careful what we wish for. That is precisely why when people say "I envy blah blah and wish blah blah" - I ask if these people are sure about their wish and whether they are ready to handle all the aspects of such a wish and besides I cannot stand the word envy.

I wish that all of us will be very successful, healthy and happy in the near future. Let us wait and see...

Great post as always M!

9:04 AM

 
Blogger Lulu said...

You only have to look at the world's ecosystem to realise there is always a bigger picture that will be affected by individual actions. But I think what your story of the spider in fact illustrates is that moral actions can be as damaging as immoral ones, and to me it's that that is frightening. If you go too far down that route, you will become unable to act at all.

Though annieytown is right, the man needed to apply common sense as well as good intentions and ask himself where the spider would get water from in a toilet cubicle!

With the being careful what you wish for, old myths and fairytales tell us that. All those three wishes that go wrong - the overflowing porridge pot, the person who wishes for immortality but forgets to ask not to get old and decrepit...all of them terrifying. Here's a thing, though - the most sensible answer with those wish problems always seemed to be to ask for something very general and unspecific - like 'I wish to be happy.' But that seems to hand over power (to know what it is that will make me happy) to someone else - someone who sees the bigger picture gets to decide. But power to whom? To God? But then, what if an atheist gets offered three wishes?

AaargH!

9:23 AM

 
Blogger actonbell said...

Fascinating post. I agree that we must be careful about what we value, and also take care to appreciate what we have, when we have it. Not that it's always possible to truly know what you have, right now. Part of the reason why I stay where I am is the knowledge that things could be worse, and that I could end up relinquishing that which is most important, just to swat a few flies.

9:29 AM

 
Blogger still life said...

When I first read this post I had to smile, my father used to say this all the time... be careful what you wish for. I never understood that as a child, but as an adult I see it so much clearer. I wrote a poem once called the nefarious dance, about wishing, bargaining... deals we are willing to make. And I believe we get in trouble when we concentrate on the immediate. I believe as well M, well not so much as believe, but I don't disbelieve.

10:25 AM

 
Blogger Kyahgirl said...

Another angle is 'I attract things into my life when I focus on them'. Its like a law of the universe. The reason that affirmations work, prayers work, etc.
Similarily, by worrying and obsessing about negative events, we can attract those into our lives.
So, the choice is kind of a no-brainer eh? :-)

xoxoxoxo

1:44 PM

 
Blogger Berlinbound said...

Great post ... and so true.

5:09 AM

 
Blogger Bela said...

I have wished (I was careful); I have made bargaining deals (never mind that I'm an atheist)... nothing's worked. The only thing that seems to work every single b***** time is saying - and sometimes only thinking - something bad might happen. It always does. I keep quiet now.

6:40 AM

 
Blogger Tania said...

Aw, I was always madly in love with men who weren't madly in love with me, and I screwed my life up plenty, but alas, I had no black magic to blame. It was just the curse of the high passion of youth: total lack of self-knowledge. I think wishing for the wrong things is a symptom of the bigger problem of not knowing who you are and what's good for you. We live and learn. You did, didn't you? :)

By the way, the idea of a spider crawling up the toilet all the time: EW. I assume the man wasn't sitting down for whatever business he was doing, or he would've done something about that spider earlier. I would've kicked that damn spider down and flushed it before my behind even got near the seat! But I grew up in a place with lots of poisonous spiders all around (black widows in the garage, for example), so I have my reasons.

8:47 AM

 
Blogger Kate said...

See, I'm with Tania. My first thought was: "Oh Jesus, the last thing I need in the bathroom at work is a spider crawling up my behind!" Just the thought that a spider could hang out in the toilet like that is totally giving me the creeps.

I am a nature lover but that spider wouldn't have had a chance with me! :-)

BTW: I knew some girls in HS who hated a particular teacher and wanted to mess around with witchcraft so they cast a spell to kill him. (Nice, eh?). The thing is, they didn't really believe in it, they were just playing around, but the guy actually DIED very unexpectedly, and he was in the prime of his life. Careful what you wish for indeed!

11:37 AM

 
Blogger the addict said...

Wow...it is an amazing concept, isn't it? The power of the human spirit is so great...but we have to be careful how we use it. Even as a child I found myself wishing for silly things only to feel the sting of regret soon after.

Later in life I was in a situation similar to yours - wanting to get a guy back. Love and attraction make you crazy sometimes, don't you think? Someone offered to help me get him back but I got scared and backed out...and I'm glad I did. Some things just aren't meant to be. The universe is much older and wiser than we are, and we would be foolish to attempt to mess with it!

1:49 PM

 

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