And so I thought some more about why the death of one innocuous animal should cause me such disquiet. I realised that every time I encounter it, my personal space becomes suddenly dimmed. And I remembered that, in spite of the credence I ascribe to notions like persistence of consciousness and the fact that each life is just one of the many journeys we take through time, I still hold life itself to be sacred.
More than that, I imagine the life force to be some sort of universal energy which we all share as individual fragments, be we human, a squirrel, or a housefly. And each fragment is a light which illuminates the void, so when one is extinguished the space dims. The closer the light is, therefore, the more it affects me personally.
I’ve always felt like this. I could tell stories of the fevered states I went into as a child when faced with the imminent prospect of a light going out – even the little mouse which invaded my bedroom and which my stepfather set about killing, or the mackerel I caught fishing off the breakwater at Brixham and which I wanted to show to my mother, but I couldn’t find her… But enough of that.
And it hardly needs saying that I have often been accused of being overly sentimental. Am I? If the fervent desire to keep a sacred light burning brightly is the definition of sentimentality, I’ll just plead guilty.