THE CRICKET IN THE BATH: 3 LESSONS

A while ago I came across a small little cricket that was hopping around in the bath, trying to get out. Originally, I was going to leave it there, but then I decided to help it out. First I tried to pick it up with my hands. I wasn't successful and the cricket kept jumping off. Then I picked up a sponge and tried to scoop it out. Again that didn't work and the cricket kept jumping off. Determined not to leave the cricket there to die, I brought down the hand-held shower head hose that you get in some baths. I hoped that the cricket would see it and jump up on that. Then he would be able to climb out. The next morning he was gone and so I assumed that my final plan had worked.

When I went to bed that night, I was thinking about my experience with the cricket and how you could learn three things from it.

[if !supportLists]1. [endif]You may have to help somebody in a different way.

The first thing I learnt was that in life you're going to come across people who have a problem. They might be sad, depressed or stuck in a predicament. In the case of the cricket, he was stuck in the bath and couldn't get out.

It is natural to want to help these people, but you'll find that sometimes the person will reject your help.

So say that your best friend's mother has just died. You try to talk to them and find out how they're feeling, but you're met with anger and a person who is cut off. They tell you that they don't want to talk about it. Maybe they're rude to you.

When people reject us like this, we can get into a sulky mood and a part of us may even want to punish our friend and teach them a lesson. We may say or think things like. “Oh well. You can just work it out yourself. If you're not going to accept my help, then sorry for you. Goodbye.”

Obviously it's a selfish attitude but when people hurt us, we can forget about how they might be feeling and we might place ourselves and our own feelings first. That's a normal reaction.

The trick is to be aware of these selfish, egocentric thoughts and to put ourselves in the other person's shoes. If you were going through a rough time, I'm sure you would want your family and friends’ support. If somebody is rejecting your help, it doesn't mean you should just leave them alone to deal with it by themselves. Instead you could come up with a different way to support and be there for them.

When I tried to pick up the cricket with my hands, he rejected me. Instead of just giving up and walking away, I tried again with a sponge. Again, he rejected my help. Now I really could have just left him to die. I watched the tiny cricket hopping up and down the side of the massive bath and I knew that it was close to impossible for him to escape in that way without help. The thought of leaving him made me guilty and so I came up with a more subtle plan. I brought the hose down as a way for him to see it and climb out. I wasn't helping him directly out of the problem but I was giving him the resource to get out the bath by himself.

So if your friend doesn't want to sit and talk about his feelings, don't leave. Help in a different way. Clean the dishes. Make him dinner. Buy him flowers. Give him the number of a grief counselor. Sit and watch a movie together. There is more than one way of helping and supporting someone.

2. Your mindset determines whether something is an obstacle or an opportunity.

The second thing I learnt was more from the cricket’s perspective. When I used my hands and the sponge to scoop the cricket out, he jumped off, rejecting my help. He had wanted to get out the bath and yet when I had tried to help him directly, he rejected me. He had viewed something in a negative, threatening light even though I was only trying to help him and not kill him like he probably suspected.

Once I had brought the hose down, I then gently nudged him with the sponge so that he would jump in the direction of it, see it and climb out. He was probably scared of me again, seeing me and the sponge as a threat. He didn't realise that the brief moment of fear was actually just preceding an opportunity to get out of the bath.

It's easy to view an occurrence as something negative. When our car breaks down, we automatically assume that the whole world is against us. We're now late for work. Maybe though, by skipping work to sort out the car repairs, we stumble across somebody who knows about a job opening for a children's book editor - our dream job. If our car had never broken down, we would have found ourselves sitting in the office, probably moping over the amount of work in front of us.

You also need to open your eyes for opportunities and actually take them. The universe can give you as much help as it can, but if you don't notice and take action, you will be stuck. If the cricket had not been so intent on sticking to Plan A (hopping up and down the side of the bath) he would have seen the other ways that he could have got out. (Hand, sponge and hose.)

If you hate your job and want to be an illustrator, you're going to have to look out for opportunities to make that happen. Take action.

3. You can learn something from everyone

I used to be very afraid of insects and spiders. I still am weary of them to an extent but it's a mindset I want to change. Humans seem to live with the notion that we're superior to all other creatures. Even humans who would consider themselves loving and equal to others may find their thoughts and actions contradictory if they observed them.

We kill cockroaches without a second thought because they're disgusting and unhygienic. We sweep ants up because they're small and smallness is often linked with being insignificant. We swat mosquitoes and flies because they're annoying. We kill spiders because they're scary. We kill crickets because…. I don't know. They're in the way. I use these types of excuses all the time, but if you really think about it, they're all rubbish. “The spider looks scary,” is not a good excuse for killing it. Do not let fear make you cruel.

Try to be mindful when you make decisions and don't just do things because “we've always lived this way and that's what everybody else is doing.” I refrain from turning the tap on if there are a bunch of ants in the sink, because humans don't like tsunamis and I doubt they do either. I've also saved a struggling beatle who was caught in a feather although I originally tried to convince myself that it was too late and would just die even if I intervened.

This original instinct is just a brainwashed blindness. We kill and dismiss because we're not thinking, and we don't understand. This is a limiting way to live. Thinking a creature is insignificant does not make it insignificant. We can actually learn a lot from other creatures. I often watch ants and I'm always amazed by how quickly they can detect food and how they work together to carry it back to their home. It's also incredible the way spiders spin webs. Charlotte’s Web is one of my favourite stories because of this very theme.

Horses are probably one of the most spiritual and wise animals I know and dogs can teach you a thing or two about loyalty. I'm always amazed to hear people say that they don't have feelings. Animals do have feelings but it takes a little bit of observation and open mindedness in order to see that.

This theme links to subgroups within humans. Looking back at our history, we have dismissed and suppressed people of different races, backgrounds, genders, sexual orientations … When you dismiss somebody, you are the one missing out on a genuine and magical experience. That person or group is not insignificant and rubbish. You just view them that way because you are afraid and uncertain. If you change your attitude to one of acceptance, you'll be amazed at how much you can learn. You'll be amazed at how much you have in common. We are all one.

So now every time I see a cricket, I am reminded of the bath incident and I think of these three lessons. You may have to help somebody in a different way, your mindset determines whether something is an obstacle or an opportunity and you can learn something from everyone. Remember that today :)