What I have learned from moths
Today, I wanted to share what I have learned from moths. Yes, you are reading right, moths can also be teachers!
This summer, we spent a week in the Canadian Rockies, hiking and also paddleboarding. It is nice to alternate hikes with time on the lakes to recover from sometimes long and strenuous hikes.
Here is a picture from a trail up above Lake Louise which was Skai’s favourite.
Back to moths
This year we paddled on Moraine Lake near Banff and Lake Louise. Whenever I show someone the pictures, people are wowed. Dropping a bright yellow board on the water only highlights its blue color. The mirror-like water with mountains as a backdrop makes me always want to pinch myself to see if it is real.
In my mind, Morraine Lake could not be any more beautiful or perfect; it is a flawless natural wonder that so many people come to admire.
A few years ago, while I paddled on the lake with Skai onboard, I noticed something very peculiar - countless moths were falling into the water. As I tried to “rescue some of them.” I saw a fish jumping up to end the life of one moth struggling on the water surface. Was it tragedy or just the perfection of nature?
This year, it was hard not to notice my sadness at being there without Skai. I don't think it will ever stop being hard. However, the quiet contemplation brought my focus once again on the moths, their “life drama” and how similar it is to human lives.
These moths are lucky to live in one of the most beautiful places in the world, but very likely, they don’t even notice (similar to many people not noticing the beauty around them). They fly around and clearly take on more they can handle eventually falling in the lake, exhausted.
When they fall in the water, their reaction varies greatly.
Some of them didn’t let me catch them and continued to drown, others lied flat on their backs and passively waited for something to happen. Some fell on their back, whirling wildly in a circle until they got exhausted and drowned. Their movement also attracted hungry trout which never ends well.
I admired the ones that were skilled at “touch and go” taking off as soon as they touched the water. There were also moths who waited for a while before they took off again.
Watching the moth drama unfold, I started to feel the urge to rescue at least some and picked a few to let them dry off on my board. I saw how differently each of them responded to being given a second chance.
Some of them tried to fly too soon and fell back into the water. I witnessed one being devoured by a trout right there in front of me. Other moths never tried again and stayed on the board until they stopped moving. The winners were the ones who waited to dry off and then soared high up up into the skies.
As I was watching the lake drama, I could not help but notice how similar moth lives were to human lives and also the work I have done for the past thirty years.
As a vet, I have spent years working with a full range of people to help their dogs. Some dry off their wings and soar, others fall back into the water of ignorance over and over with dire consequences. There are also those who deny they are about to drown pretending all is fine or even get upset or aggressive with a slight suggestion that they or their canine friend may be in trouble.
I've spent thirty years floating on a lake full of patients who needed help. I realized no matter what I did, I could never help them all. I have also seen many of my colleagues, vets, healers and rescuers who do more than they can and burn out. Knowing our limits is essential as it is unreasonable to try to rescue a thousand “moths” at once.
We can never rescue everyone, nor can we solve every problem. However, helping one dog, one person or moth at a time makes an undeniable difference in their lives. We can also help them learn how to touch and go or rest and soar.
© Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM