Toronto is full of pigeons. Most big cities are, I’d imagine. Sometimes we half-jokingly call them sky rats because they’re everywhere and are thought to be dirty and potentially disease and pest-carrying.
Last winter I was walking to work when I saw a pigeon run over by a car. It happened in a slow instant. A heavy thud as the bird made contact with the car, sliding to the ground, one of the wheels possibly thumping over it as the car ambled on. If the driver noticed what had happened it didn’t affect his or her speed or control of the vehicle.
The bird lay in the middle of the street. I paused for a moment, watching it breathe, wondering if I should call a vet, if a vet would be willing to work on a wild animal, and if survival was ever a possibility in these cases. One moment it was breathing, one eye watching me, the next it twitched violently, and then the only movement was a slight wind ruffling feathers.
The silence rushing in was a flash flood.
As a child I was never satisfied with Mom’s answers about what happens to animals after they die. One time she told us that they stopped existing because they didn’t have souls but that we shouldn’t feel sorry for them because they weren’t self-aware. They didn’t know enough to know that they existed in the first place and wouldn’t be able to understand it even if we could somehow explain that people live on after death.
When our pets died the story changed. They still were un-souled, but Mom said it was possible for God to keep part of them in existence if there was a human who would love and miss them otherwise. That comforted me…
Until I thought about all of the pets who live and die abused, forgotten and unloved. They hadn’t asked to be created or to suffer. How could they never find peace in the end?
I decided to create a loophole: if I loved the forgotten ones, God would have to reconsider the rules. Mom’s asthma and my allergies prevented us from having family pets after a while, but the loophole has somehow stuck around even after my belief system evolved into I just don’t know. I still believe in second chances and in embracing those who have been rejected. I do not believe in the idea of worthless animals or people.
What are your remnants? That is, what small beliefs, hunches or inklings have you carried with you even as larger capital-B Beliefs evolved or were left behind? My example was about a leftover from religious beliefs, but any belief counts.