Only My Opinions

Tolerating the House Fly

It wants food, whether neglected or discarded, or freshly cooked and about to be eaten. No one knows why grime is so appealing to its wellbeing. Unlike our dogs, no one is responsible for feeding them and so, just like the vulture and the hyena, the pig, the prawn and the microbe, it goes out there to take what seems available. A fly is repelled by cleanliness, simply because in a clean place there is hardly anything for it to feed on – but sometimes it knowingly gets lost in a clean place, with the hope of finding someone willing to collaborate in its quest to create a decent meal for itself.

A little shiny green fly lets itself into my kitchen, without even a knock on the door. A cup of tea on the table and a piece of cake on a side plate next to it. Not much food to last long for me, and I have no plans to vacate the table until I’m done – let alone allow this uninvited guest to even taste my tea. After cleaning the house, I am sure there is nothing a fly could find to be of particular interest anywhere here.  All there is for him to can eat in this house is on the table, right in front of me. But to do that, he will have to survive my unforgiving bare left-handed stone cold smack down.

So, my invasive guest sits high on the kitchen wall; easy like Spiderman on “Home Coming”, only without the web. As I look up to where he is, it dawns on me why a house-fly has such a short life expectancy of only 28 days. It could be longer, I think, if it wasn’t for its incendiary approach to inter-species diplomacy. Such a big fly, at his age, he must have been to every household in this neighborhood, and been to my house more often than even my friendliest neighbor. Through all this, he must have learnt the most import lesson for a fly; the deep seated human disdain for a fly’s ill-reputed presence.

After a moment of scheming on my wall, the little creature finally announces the reason for the invasion. He takes a reconnaissance buzz around the kitchen and then sits on a chair near me. He must think I am a bit too calm for his liking because right away, he starts buzzing up around my face before landing on my forehead. That is enough to raise my temperature straight up to a boil.  Suddenly, he descends onto the cookie plate; now that is something I am not going to let happen on my watch. Instantly, a very determined smack with both hands. Shucks! I missed – but the force of my leaping body rattles the table so much, it sends the tea cup and the cookie plate overboard. In a moment, sprinklings of sweet tea and crumbled cake lay scattered on a recently squeaky clean floor. Alas, my little tea break on the table has now become a great feast for his kind on the floor.

The salivating little creature is now perched on another wall, happy with its heroics as it contemplates its next move. I believe it is watching me as I get worked up in the aftermath of my tantrum. I then recollect myself and decide to fetch the cleaning things from outside the house. As I go out the door, I can almost instantly sense the green one descend to the floor,  triumphantly to inspect his loot – a brazen declaration of victory.

As I return, he is gone, maybe to call the others to join in the banquet and narrate the tale of his great resourcefulness. After all, he seeks no one’s permission.  I stand there looking down at the mess on the floor, and wondered just how my tea time, a solemn moment of ease, calm and reflection, has declined into this unforeseen bedlam. I took a deep breath and an idea just came to me saying, everything in life has its own usefulness. Not in a superstitious way of course, but in more practical terms where the relationship between cause and effect is discernible.

A cup is for tea, a teaspoon for stairing; a bee for honey, and what if a fly is for teaching us to have self-control and remain calm, even in the face of the things we despise? Think of various things in life that you regard with disdain, including people and places. If the disdain is not a result of prejudice of some kind, such as hearsay or judgement from a distance, then it must be based on something that actual happened that strained the relationship.

Sometimes we are able to view the same person we dislike from a different perspective when we realize how there is more to who they are than the one thing we do not like about them. We may then find a new strand that would make it possible to continue in a relationship with them. However, when we think of a fly, we may not know its benefit to life or the reason it was created, but it is here as a part of the totality of life.

We get repulsed by a fly simply because we have long associated it to many things that we detest. But could it be that our lack of understanding it is based on our reactivity towards it rather than the curiosity of wanting to understand what it really is? Maybe if we made an effort to expose ourselves a bit more to the things that make us uncomfortable in life, we would begin to realize the little ways in which their presence in our lives has some meaning.

A momentary loss of control, like a flick of a switch or a spark of fire, could light up a whole city or burn a whole forest. Blind rage, by its definition, is based on misguided beliefs that are caused by our willful avoidance and refusal to understand a situation better than we currently do. The unfortunate consequence of our unfounded beliefs is in how they usurp the reasoning power of the mind, to a point where the mind begins to work against us, instead of for us.

My passionate swipe at the fly was a result of the anger attached to my belief in its filth and its ability to make me ill. Or maybe that was not the reason and my anger is unfounded and purely a habitual response to flies in general. But by giving way to the anger of my beliefs, I was unable to calm down and simply swat the fly away. That could have saved my day but instead, I allowed the fly to use my anger against me, in order to achieve what it needed.

All this makes me wonder just what the passion behind my response to the fly was. Was it based on a reason I can understand or is it just a learned response that has turned me into a fly smacking automaton? At that moment, I found myself contemplating just how much of my responses to everyday situations are knee-jerk, habitual reactions, rather than necessary actions based on reason.

So, the next time you see a fly, a mosquito or something you would most likely whack on sight, try not to smack it – just for the hack of it. Try this for a week. See if you can realize the power of self-control that this restraint brings to you. The good thing about it is that if you succeed, the same restraint would come very handy in every aspect of your life, more especially in your relationships. In that way, there might be a strong connection between a fly and the good relationships you have with other people. After all, why did nature or Creation itself, find it necessary for something like a fly to exist? Simply because there is somewhere in life where the presence of a fly makes the most sense; for the same reason that there are situations in life where fire would be the most important thing to have.   – GEM

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