Kids Corner


The Bug in The Rug:
Letters From Espanola





It’s summer time here in New Mexico, USA, and the long, hot days bring a lot of things.

The sun doesn’t set until 9 pm at night. The days are also dry. We get thunderstorms in the afternoon, if we’re lucky.

And bugs come into the house.

I have made peace with the bugs that show up every summer, and have different strategies for different creatures.

I capture the wolf spiders and take them outside, if I can reach them. I leave them alone if I can’t. Ants will congregate in the kitchen sink, unless there’s enough water outside. A thin coating of baby powder along the front door or window sills tends to keep the ants at bay.

The moths that sneak in through a momentarily open door at night find their own death, unfortunately. They hang out too close to the light bulb of my “Tiffany style” Torchiere lamp and eventually singe themselves into the next life. A couple times a year, I have to vacuum their remains out of the light casing.

Then there are the unlucky varieties of beetles and bugs that manage to get themselves caught in the fiber of the carpets. They become stuck and can’t move.

If I don’t rescue them in time, that is how they end up dying. It is a lengthy and unpleasant way to go.

A few weeks ago, I came into my little gurdwara to meditate and there was a black beetle tangled in the carpet. I did my best to rescue it – pulling on it gently to try and pluck it out of the carpet fibers. But the beetle considered me the worse of two evils, and clung to those carpet fibers with all of its might.

Try as I could, the beetle did not want to let go. When I realized that the only way to get it out of the carpet was to pull so hard that I risked tearing the creature in two, I decided to leave it alone.

It had managed to get itself stuck right in front of the Guru Granth Sahib. So I figured that it had some karam it needed to work out with the Guru.

That’s another thing about bugs in the summer. A handful of them somehow find their way into the gurdwara, where they drop their bodies. I discover dead bugs around the rumaalas all the time. I figure maybe they are Mughal warriors from a previous life who had come to make their peace.

So I let the beetle stay where it was and did my meditation.

A few days passed.

The beetle was still bound within the carpet, but not dead yet.

(Death by carpet takes time.)

So I decided to try again. I grabbed the beetle and lifted it gently from the fibers. This time, it did not resist me. It had grown too weak to fight. It did not move much in my palm, but when I took it outside and lowered it to the ground, it walked away fine on its own. Strong enough to find food and water, I suspect, and to keep living its beetle life.

I cannot tell you what the beetle worked out with the Guru during those days in the carpet. But watching how it got caught and how it finally became free reflected a great lesson back to me.

This is how life works.

We get stuck in something – a karam, a pattern, an unhealthy way of life. But because we fear change, or we fear the unknown, we cling to the thing that binds us, to the thing that might kill us, rather than let go.

When the ego is strong it says, “No – I don’t want your help. No – I don’t want to move. No – I will figure this out on my own.”

Just one big loud “NO” after another. And then we stay in the situation - struggling, trapped, and slowly wasting away.

It is only when the ego becomes weak, when it does not have the strength to fight anymore, that it can let go.

Letting go is such a profound act of surrender. It is the moment when we give up what the “I” thinks or sees or believes and we are willing to allow a Greater Force to come in. A Force that can free us, and take us on a journey that will help us. Even if we do not know how that journey will unfold or where the ultimate destination lies.

I have been the beetle in the carpet many times in my life. Holding on when it would have been better to let go. Not knowing how to trust what that Force wanted, or where It planned to take me.

We make our share of mistakes before we realize that the ego actually is not the best decision maker in the world. That the “I” can always use some help.

Luckily the Guru is there, in Word and Radiant Presence, to give Its guidance and support, as soon as we become weak enough to give in.

It is a precious, well-earned lesson. And maybe one that the beetle had a chance to learn this summer - in whatever way that it could.

July 31, 2014

Conversation about this article

1: Ajit Singh Batra (Pennsville, New Jersey, USA), July 31, 2014, 7:43 PM.

Guru Nanak said that the ego makes one foolish and it also makes you wise (GGS:466]. Ego is God's creation. It may be evil in one way, but it definitely carries the seed for progress and advancement in His scheme of things. The ego, though it is a distorted view of self-hood, becomes divine when tuned to His Will.

2: H. Kaur (Canada), July 31, 2014, 8:25 PM.

You have a killer carpet. Why not get another one? I'm not perfect. My pet sometimes manages to kill the spiders that sneak into my place (though I get the ones I see outside) and I have killed some stuff, especially when I was younger (including a loud housefly, with the help of a dictionary). I would rather kill an insect actually than have it suffer for hours. Just get rid of that awful rug.

3: Jasbeer Singh (New Delhi, India), August 01, 2014, 3:32 AM.

Worth reading ... thank you!

4: G P Singh (San Antonio, Texas, USA), August 01, 2014, 4:15 PM.

Wonderful thoughts. You are teaching us that there is a lesson to be learnt from the littlest things that happen in our daily lives. This is what makes us Sikhs. We learn from everything with Guru and His teachings in mind.

5: Navi Singh (Pennsylvania, USA), August 06, 2014, 6:32 PM.

You are blessed with a wakefulness and a presence in the present to be able to see the life lessons that are always around us. Thank you, Ek Ong Kaar Kaur ji, for this beautiful piece.

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Letters From Espanola"

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