Friday, October 07, 2005

Trying to kill fear?

First I was revisiting frogs. Then yesterday it was that snake or one of its mates. I was mowing along the road (on a ride-on mower, like a little tractor) and looked to one side through the paddock fence. A snake was writhing there, about a metre away. I’m terrified of snakes and would normally have yelped and galloped, but this one was obviously in serious trouble: its head had been cut off. The mower and I had done it, too, but I only realised this in hindsight, driving past it again on the second lap of the road circuit. How it remained out of sight the first time, I have no idea. It wasn't exactly small. (The photos are way down the page, in case you don't want to see them.)

I’m terrified of snakes. I just want to say that again. I hate them hate them hate them. The only good snake is a dead snake, et cetera. This was a brown, I think, and they’re venomous. In other words, if I’d stepped on it, or the dogs had worried it, or the cows and calves had wandered right over the top of it, it could have killed us. (And I imagine it just going crazy and killing us all - me, dogs, cattle, all at once: a frenzied snake attack.) I’m glad it’s dead. Self-defence, I say. Good riddance, I say. And typing this now, hours later, I want to put my feet up off the floor, scared of leaving them down there so far away from the rest of me, where anything... and you know what I’m thinking... could slither along.

And here’s what else I’m thinking: none of what I’ve said above is justified. That snake had as much right to live as I do. It wasn’t trying to attack me or anything else, its head was cut off by the mower blades, which are underneath the mower (its head would have been rearing up if it was trying to attack). It was probably lying in the grass just minding its own business. For all I know, it was probably happy eating rats in the macca plantation next door, and would have gone on doing that until the (natural) end of its days, never bothering anything else.

I suddenly see how powerful a concept is self-defence, and how little I'll question a supposed threat if it comes from something I already fear. And here's the worst part: even realising all this, I’m still glad that snake is dead.