How To Deal With Bugs…Organically, Of Course!

David Quilty

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July 20, 2009

Today’s post is by my friend John Hamilton Farr, who blogs at FarrFeed and shows the real New Mexico at FotoFeed

How To Deal With Bugs…

Organically, Of Course! Otherwise, you wouldn’t be reading, right?

The year was 1970. I was off to help some friends in central New Hampshire build a couple of log cabins on a mountaintop they’d bought. What’s more, they planned to accomplish this without power tools or motorized equipment, using draft horses to haul the logs. Back-to-the-landers, oh yeah.

But In the context of the war in Vietnam, the bombing of Cambodia, the Kent State murders, and the cultural transformation then sweeping Western societies, this was more than “living green” — the system had it in for us in no uncertain terms, which meant that living a simple, natural life in the deep New England woods was both a logical survival strategy and a revolutionary statement. The whole adventure is worthy of a book (I’m writing one, in fact), even though it ultimately foundered in a physical sense. The spiritual wisdom gained through the chaos of the time still lives, however, tucked away though it may have been over the sterile intervening decades, and it may be time to pull it out again.

The episode that comes to mind is one involving bugs, believe it or not. Mosquitos, to be exact. The wet New Hampshire forest bred them in the billions like a holy mission, and they attacked me mercilessly at first. I tried everything in the drugstore arsenal of the day, but nothing worked, and it was impossible to get anything done while swatting constantly. Belatedly, I noticed that my host appeared unbothered and unbitten. Why, he wasn’t even wearing a hat!

Upon questioning, he told me something disarmingly simple that hardly anyone I’ve mentioned this to for almost 40 years has seconded: the mosquitos, he said, recognized emotions such as fear or hostile intent and acted accordingly. All I had to do, he assured me, was think peaceful thoughts and leave them alone! That’s it. That’s all there is to it, or was: I did as he instructed, despite the high-pitched buzzing all around my face, making sure not to pre-emptively slap the few mosquitos that actually landed on my skin. The change may not have been instantaneous, but before too long, I found myself at peace again, with no new bites. (Whoa!)

Now, on the surface, this is just a funny story. It may be something you believe, or don’t, and I have to admit that I haven’t practiced as I preach for much too long. The fact remains, though, that once I changed my inner orientation to the creatures, everything shifted… It’s kind of like another thing that often happens when I want to kill a pesky buzzing fly: pick up the swatter, and he disappears! I’ll bet you’ve noticed something similar once or twice, smirked at the ironic absurdity of it all, and gone your way without processing the broader implications. We all do, probably because the truth demands too much responsibility of us: “What, you mean I have to watch my thoughts?”

Well, yes.

Everything is connected in ways we don’t automatically accept because it can’t be measured (yet). But who wants to be the last to catch the clue train? Unfortunately, living a materially simple life in harmony with nature in America is still a revolutionary act. I haven’t managed it myself yet, but maybe we can say intention matters at least a little bit…

(Just ask the unofficial state bird of New Hampshire!)

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