Sometimes I stumble upon a quote that is so so simple, profound and beautiful, I can’t get it out of my mind, like this one by Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965):
Schweitzer was a polymath, theologian, philosopher and physician who decided that he would devote his life to…Life from the age of thirty on. He set up a missionary hospital in Africa where he worked for many decades.
In reading his biographies, I came across a passage, insignificant to most, probably- but it hit me like a ton of bricks, because from a child I have done the same thing and was always too embarrassed to tell anyone. Have you ever done this?
“If he goes out into the street after a rainstorm and sees a worm which has strayed there, he reflects that it will certainly dry up in the sunshine, if it does not quickly regain the damp soil into which it can creep, and so he helps it back from the deadly paving stones into the lush grass. Should he pass by an insect which has fallen into a pool, he spares the time to reach it a leaf or stalk on which it may clamber and save itself.”
When I was a kid, as I used to return from the barn after my chores, I often saw worms struggling in the driveway, coated with sand. I knew they wouldn’t make it back to the lawn if I didn’t help them. I couldn’t just leave them there. So I patrolled the driveway and threw them all back into the grass. Even then I asked myself why I should take the time to do this, yet I felt I had to do it.
Yesterday I found Schweitzer’s quote and the answer to that question.
Because I am life that wants to live and the worms are life that wants to live, too. Of all the philosophies I have studied, some starting with matter, some with man in a state of nature, some starting (absurdly, I think) with private property, I think Schweitzer has nailed it.
You are life that wants to live. In the midst of life that wants to live.
So when you have a chance to help Life-do that.