Monday, April 13, 2009

What Am I Spreading?

So, I'm learning a lot about termites. In some dark recess of my brain, there is a piece being composed reflecting the swarming intruders. On the surface of my consciousness, though, there is a song by Tom Waits called Army Ants, in which insect and human behavior are compared.

The most common treatment for subterranean termites is a slow-acting nicotine-derived poison that can be transferred from one termite to another. As they crawl along their little tunnels and come into contact with fellow termites, the chemical basically rubs off on other bugs. Eventually, the whole colony can be affected (killed) even though some of the little buggers don't crawl through the deadly chemical directly. From my perspective, with a little luck, the queen will wind up dead on our back doorstep.

I'm also serving on team for the May More To Life Weekend in Houston, and the theme for this weekend is Pay It Forward. The hope there is that there will be a willingness on the part of the participants to offer some portion of their resources of time, abilities, and money back into the organization. I see a great breadth to what this can mean, but I have also become aware that we "pay forward" all kinds of things whether or not we mean to do so.

Just like the innocent little termite spreading poison to every colony-mate with which he comes into contact, we spread things too. We can spread joy, peace, understanding, acceptance, tolerance, kindness, and all sorts of healthy things from our own abundance. But often, when we aren't intentional about what we are doing, we can spread our own poisons: anger, violence, fear, distrust, pessimism, hopelessness, and on and on.

I sincerely hope that the whole colony of termites living close enough to dine on my house pulls down the curtain and goes to join the choir invisible. But I also want to be conscious of what I'm moving through and what I'm spreading around. Unlike the termites, I can make a choice about what I spread.

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