I posted a picture on FB of me holding a snake I found on a trail and the comments were interesting. It was clear that people are afraid of the snake, not because it can hurt them or because it’s poisonous, but because it’s a snake. There’s one kind of snake that survives by imitating a rattle snake, the rat snake. That trick works in nature, other animals are fooled, but with humans, well, let’s face it, they just try to kill it anyways.
That’s nothing but ignorance and media gullibility. Snakes do not chase you down, like in Anaconda. (Except maybe black mambas, and I try to steer clear of them.) And living with these amazing creatures is a joy and a gift. I’m no snake expert, but I have bothered to learn what’s dangerous and isn’t in the area where I live and hike, and my life is richer for it. That’s just smart. If I lived in the Serengeti I wouldn’t take a stroll out into lion territory without some way to escape or a knowledge of where the lions are hunting that day.
I relate this fear of the unknown to so many people I know, and things that have happened recently. People get bitten by snakes for two reasons, they step on it, or they poke at it with a stick. If they weren’t afraid of it, they’d take a picture and move on.
Where did we get this fear of what we don’t understand? I recently had someone make a slew of accusations about me on the web, and trust me, it’s not easy to read a bunch of lies about yourself, your husband, and your children. It was someone who thinks she has reason to fear me, and was hissing to try to strike back, but in truth, I see her and her comments, as the fangless, harmless snake poop that they are and the behavior as that of a baser type of creature. Information is a good thing. I know not to fear a rat snake, or even a rattle snake if I’m aware. I know I’m a good mom who works very hard and has made choices in her life to make less money in the short run in favor of a life filled with community and art and mom-ness. I was raised with money, so it isn’t such a motivator for me as it is to someone who comes from nothing. I have a loving family, so I understand that someone who doesn’t, can’t relate to the value of that over a bigger house. Yes, those are my choices. If I wanted what someone else had, trust me, I would have it. I have exactly what I want, a loving, talented, husband, an unbreakable bond with my daughters, my writing, my many incredible friends, and a beautiful home that is a place of laughter, nature, and retreat. I want for nothing, I have an amazing life. Everyday I am thankful for it.
These choices might be impossible for someone to grasp who hasn’t got it. Jewelry and cars cannot replace true accomplishment and contentment, I know this because I have had so much of both. But how would someone know that when they are looking at life through eyes that see only the preconceived? It’s like the harmless rat snake, it can’t hurt you, but you fear it out of ignorance, because you were taught that they’re scary, or worse, because it serves you to try to scare others with the falsehood.
Can’t you just hear that human’s rattle going? The hiss, hiss, of the upset reptile, which really means, of course, “I’m afraid of you, stay away.”
So, as much as I might like to poke certain snake people with a sharp stick, I know better not to, I learned that from snakes. And, come on, it’s just common sense. I’ll keep admiring the real snakes and ignoring the human ones.
So, in conclusion, don’t fear the noise, don’t fear the scales, look at the snake, see how beautiful the pattern of its skin is? How beautifully it moves through the grass?
And the rattle goes, trrrrrrrrrr. Sounds like music to me, part of the symphony of life. Rich, stark, profound and trite, it is all magnificent.
Don’t fear snakes, fear ignorance.
Or just accept that we live with both, and be happy.