How To Learn From A Roach

Fear is sometimes a survival mechanism. When I’m hiking alone in a wilderness area, for example, I don’t go off the trail. Who wants to disturb a rattlesnake? It makes sense to be afraid of a rattlesnake, but most of my fears are unfounded. The thing about unfounded fear is that it can drive me to do or think things that, in my right mind, I wouldn’t approve of. For example, I killed a roach the other night. Actually, I murdered it.

Just for the record, there are wild roaches out here in Arizona. I’m not kidding. These aren’t the everyday roaches that live in your kitchen. These are the ones you would see on a Nature show. These guys roam the desert and occasionally find their way into a house. And they’re big. Maybe not as big or as scary as the flying roaches I’ve seen in South Carolina and Texas, but they’re big enough. Here’s the thing. They don’t fly. They don’t bite, and as far as I know, they don’t carry diseases. They’re just creepy and unpredictable.

The one I murdered the other night still bothers me. I was on my way to the bathroom in the middle of the night, (isn’t that always the way?) and this roach was between me and where I was going. He was lying on his back with his legs twitching in the air. Ordinarily, when I encounter something in my house that belongs outside – like a spider – I’ll scoop it up between two pieces of cardboard and just put it outside. I hate killing things. I mean, they’re God’s creatures, aren’t they? Still, I murdered this roach in a most brutal way. He was too big to step on (ARRRGH), so I got out my can of RAID and sprayed him. Drowned him is more like it. And here’s the horrible part. The poor thing’s legs kept twitching until he died.

It was murder, all right, because I killed something that was on its back. In my mind, that is just unethical, but I was driven by fear – the stupid kind, the kind that has no basis in reason. What did I have to fear from something that couldn’t harm me, something that was so much smaller than I was, something that was helpless to boot?  What was I afraid of – that it was going to jump on me? Crawl into my bed? That’s highly unlikely. And even if it did, it wouldn’t hurt me. This is the kind of baseless, mindless fear that drives us human beings to do things that are against our better natures. It drove me to an act of brutality. I know it was just a roach, but the instinct to kill it – for no good reason – was in me. Is in me.

The actress Katherine Hepburn once said, and I am paraphrasing: A sin is something you feel remorse about afterward. Now I don’t happen to believe in sin as a concept; I prefer the concept of error. But whatever it is, if I feel remorse about it afterward, I know it was wrong. And I know it was wrong of me to kill that helpless little creature because I couldn’t go to sleep afterwards. It may not have been wrong for somebody else. It was wrong for me.

There is a lot of fear in the air these days, and you all know what I’m talking about. Some of it is justifiable. It has cause. Some of it is that survival mechanism activated. But I’ll wager that too much of it is based on a lack of something within ourselves. Faith, maybe?

I learned of an acronym for fear the other day: Forgetting Everything’s All Right. Way down deep inside (and some days it’s deeper than others) I know that everything really is all right. I know that everything that is happening has a purpose of which I may not be aware, and I know that a benevolent Universe is in charge, but I forget it constantly. It is in that state of forgetfulness that I can lose my head and do something that isn’t what my higher, believing self would do. It doesn’t have to be an act; it can be a thought, or a thoughtless statement. I am capable of directing my fear at a human being and thinking or saying dark things about that person, even though I do not know what living their life is like. Let me assure you, that is murder of a kind.

I have to recognize misdirected fear when it comes, understand that I am capable of it, and nip it in the bud. Name it, own it, and dump it.

That doesn’t mean I can’t speak or act to prevent bad things from happening. I can and I do.  Yes, I embrace causes and work on political campaigns. My country is my responsibility. But there are people I do not want to hang out with.  There are people who are mindless, ignorant, and mean.  There are people who are loveless and there are people who act out of fear and hurt others. God help them and their karma. But the assassination of someone’s soul out of fear is not something I want in my head, in my heart, in my energy field, or on my conscience. If they’re doing something dastardly, they are, in all likelihood, already on their back.

Sorry, little roach. Really.


Read The Messenger: The Improbable Story of a Grieving Mother and a Spirit Guide by Helen Delaney. Find it at or, for a signed copy, go to