Last night, I needed to clean out the cricket habitat and I was extra careful as I did so because these little critters jump out and I have already lost one which ended up as food for a hungry spider in the corner of the room. Anyhow, 2 escaped. I managed to get one back in no problems. The second one, I was super careful with however when it was safely back in the enclosure, it just died. There and then. That really upset me. How could something be there fully alive in one second and be completely gone the next?
I felt I should have just let it escape but my mind was on it perhaps enduring the same fate as its predecessor and so wanted to get it back at all costs. Some might say “Look Jon, they’re only crickets and in 3 months they will all be dead anyway.” That’s not the point. I brought them home because I didn’t want them to be live food for reptiles. I have a duty of care towards them for one thing. I have bonded with them and love them for another as I too love the snails in their enclosure. As I love my mum and the cats. There are gradations of feeling/emotion within that of course. However, I want them all to have the best things. A nice clean place to live with lots of space and ready access to water and good food.
I am now dreading the next clean and change of food. If they stay too long in their surroundings without a clean, ammonia gas builds up and they will suffocate. A part of me feels I should not have been enticed to where they sat on the store shelf because of their beautiful chirping however again, I couldn’t bear the thought of them being eaten alive. Some sources online report that they feel no pain however I don’t believe that. I was at a local nature reserve and inside were reptiles and in with them were live prey and I saw agitation as they tried to escape their fate. I saw fear writ large in their reactions to where they were and what was to befall them.
I strongly believe in reincarnation and so I believe they will return as something with a longer lifespan and a more auspicious position within the animal kingdom to come, however I am still their custodian while they are here and I want them to know they are cared for. I put some new lettuce in for them this morning and some cucumber. Both were fresh and moist. It didn’t take long for them to motor over to their latest food offerings however I couldn’t help but think about their friends who are not here today, friends they may miss and could be grieving for.
This brings me to Eric Clapton.
I love his music. He is my favourite musician of all time even if his recorded output over the past 25 years or so has been extremely boring. He shoots animals for fun. He fishes. He has played concerts in support of organisations which like to hunt down beautiful animals for ‘recreation.’ It has always weighed heavily on my mind. I feel conflicted over it.
Do I just listen to his work up to the time he first took to a field with a shotgun or do I bypass it (his music) altogether? What does he get from pointing the barrel of a gun at something living and flying carefree through the air, a creature nurtured and looked after up to its day of release? I am distraught over losing a cricket, which is a living creature in my care. Why does he (EC) feel the need to want to shoot at something so lovely, for ‘sport?’
Deep down, I know I have to stop listening to him altogether. No one else delivers so much to my brain receptors as EC does. His tone, feel, playing approach, note choices, what he doesn’t play as well as what he does. His magnificent bends, that vibrato. I have been listening to him this morning. As soon as he starts playing, all my concerns pertaining to this matter fall away. The trick then is not to start listening and then that can’t happen. Easier said than done though.
Returning to my crickets for a moment. I didn’t intend for any of them to die however my intent in wanting to bring them home with me came from a place of purity. I feel a responsibility, a duty of care to those around me. This is why I became vegan. Why was I distinguishing between my pets whom I doted upon and other forms of life which I sat down and tucked into without a care as to their living (and dying) conditions beforehand? In some countries they eat cats and think nothing of it.
So, just as I care about my crickets, snails and cats, I also tend to the birds in the garden. I make sure they have plenty to eat on a daily basis. I am mortified if even one feeder is running low of food let alone run out altogether. The birds won’t starve if one or two feeders are empty until the next day as there are still 10 others of various kinds in my garden plus neighbours who also feed birds. Why then am I squaring away the love of a person’s music over the lives of lovely creatures who very likely won’t be dead when they fall from the sky and hit the ground, after they’ve been shot at by the maestro in bird killer mode? Why is this okay for me?
I have listened to EC daily since my 12th birthday in 1985. I had seen him play Live Aid in July of that year and was taken by his music. I wouldn’t stop going on about him so my parents bought me a cassette, which contained music of EC’s from the Robert Stigwood management years. Two songs stuck out to me right away – Have You Ever Loved A Woman? and Key To The Highway. I wasn’t just introduced to the most important musical influence of my life but also to Blues music which is my favourite genre of them all.
EC has been the mainstay of my life since then and I can say with complete honesty, he has kept me afloat on more than one occasion. Hundreds in all likelihood. Some may again say “Come on Jon, there are probably loads of musicians who are into all kinds of shady stuff far worse than what EC’s up to, which we will never even know about. Keep listening if his music brings you enjoyment.” That’s not the point. I do know and it’s still about a duty of care, this time to the truth. EC likes to shoot animals for a hobby. How would I feel if he showed up at my house today with a shotgun and asked where the birds are and would I point them out to him cos he wanted to shoot them? I wouldn’t only tell him to F*ck Off, I would escort him off the premises and guess what? I would never listen to his music again.
I know what I must do.
Wednesday 24th May 2023 – The day I begin my journey of getting clean from my addiction to EC’s music. It’s going to be hard but worth it. It won’t save the lives of the birds he is going to kill however I’m no longer feeding into that cycle by listening to & buying (into) his music. I have a duty of care after all.