What could a snail teach me?


Thrift, agency, courage (in vulnerability), and humility are snails’ teachings for me.


Problem: I’ve stepped on too many snails during this wet autumn after a long drought. They emerge in morning and evenings when the light is weak. When the humidity is high between rains, they feed on the organic matter that gets washed onto the sidewalks.


Bigger problem: I move through life often without being present fully to what or whom I encounter.


Thrift: Their search for food is not a hunt so much as a gradual collection of debris. That process informs my artistic expression. I prefer working with found objects and avoid craft and art supply stores until I need new brushes or paints. I do not jump at the chance of buying new canvases. I’d prefer painting on top of someone else’s or wood or old water damaged paper. It’s like having a conversation with found materials that connect with me. I keep my expenses lower by acquiring secondhand clothing and used books or furniture (instead of high-priced brand new).


Agency: Thrift and agency are intertwined. Snails build their own structures and stay attached to these structures to live. I create physical and mental spaces in which I live to some degree. I do my best to think critically for myself and not just accept the status quo.

Courage in or with vulnerability: Snails have their shelter on their backs. But to feed or move then they must make themselves vulnerable since they stick their neck way beyond their shell. When they sense danger, they will bring their heads back into their shells for safety. For me, courage is in going beyond my comfort zone at times. Speaking up gently and respectfully. Sharing my inmost thoughts.


Humility: I would do well to listen more and speak less like the silent snail. Their trail curves and bends a bit like a flowing river. Never a straight line but it does glisten long after they’ve been through. If my actions and sparing words can leave a glowing trail for others, then I would do well to be that way more.

Everyday solution for snails: Sometimes my driveway and sidewalk become covered with multiple snails. If I need to travel by foot or by wheel, I add a little time before I head out. All I need is a plastic cup or box. If I bring my hand near a snail’s head, it will retreat into its shell. Then I can collect it safely into the cup. Then I safely shake the cup over the lawn or ground so the snails can stay clear of my path for a bit. Fall is especially challenging for me since acorns and their hulls look about the same and feel the same underfoot as snails.



pexels photo by invisiblepower

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