Thor is a friend of mine from Bangkok.
Recently, he told me about a trip to his local market.
He’d seen two ducks about be slaughtered.
Thor is Buddhist and full of compassion.
So he saved the two duck’s lives.
He bought them and took them home.
He gave them the run of his garden, and he fed them every day.
And they began to feel almost like friends.
Then one day, one of them disappeared.
Thor was a bit disappointed.
Why would it leave after he’d rescued it?
Then, a few days later, the other duck disappeared, too.
Again Thor was disappointed, but he accepted the inevitable.
The ducks were free to go if they chose.
Several weeks later, one of his neighbours mentioned her little dog was missing.
She asked Thor if he’d seen it.
Thor asked her if it might have run away.
She said there was no way it could get out of the garden.
They wondered if someone had taken it.
Thor and the neighbour didn’t connect her dog with his ducks.
Until a couple of weeks later.
Thor’s other neighbour heard a scuffling noise and went into her garden.
There was a large python swallowing her kitten.
The neighbour took her shoes off and threw them at the python.
It dropped the kitten and slithered off.
Thor said the kitten was alive, just.
But it was pretty badly shaken up.
See, the python doesn’t actually have any teeth or fangs.
So it doesn’t poison its victims, it crushes them.
The python is like one big, long muscle.
It coils around its prey.
Eventually they can’t breathe, and die.
Then the python crushes the body to a size it can swallow.
Like a compactor.
The python can disengage its jaw, to allow its head to fit over much larger objects.
Once it’s swallowed it, the python rests while its body digests it.
Thor showed me a picture of the pool at the bottom of his garden.
He thought that was where the python lived.
I asked him what he was going to do about the python.
Thor said ‘Nothing.’
I told him he was crazy, you can’t leave a python in your back garden.
Thor said they didn’t use the back garden much.
He said, in Bangkok no one had picnics or barbeques in the garden, the way we do in England.
It’s too hot.
So he didn’t need to disturb the python.
He could leave it alone.
He didn’t need to do anything.
That made me think.
How it can be okay to leave something alone.
Just leave things the way they are.
Not to do anything if you don’t have to.
See, I’m so used to the western way of being.
Everyone has to have an opinion about everything.
No one can let anything just be.
Everyone is frightened to leave anything alone.
We have to have an opinion.
And we have to express it loudly.
And if anyone else has an opinion we have to have an answer for that.
We have do something.
Or at least say something.
We have to have the last word.
We’re either expressing an opinion, or waiting to express an opinion.
That’s our only two choices.
Thor had a third option.
Wait, and watch.
See what develops.
When you need to do something, do it.
But don’t do it until you need to.
It reminded me of what Buddha said “Never speak unless it improves on the silence.”