The little snail

Wednesday, 21 March 2012 – the little snail – a story about helping others

As I was walking home today, into the sunshine that glowed a soft yellow at the end of my road, I noticed a tiny little snail crossing the pavement in front of me. His shell was coloured in pale yellow with black swirly stripes.

I thought about picking him up, to save him from someone else’s footstep. I thought about putting him onto a leaf in someone’s garden. I almost did.

Then I stopped. What if he had spent an hour crossing to the centre of the pavement? What if he had a purpose and was trying to get somewhere? By ‘helping him’ I would set him back significantly from reaching his goal. I know it’s possibly a silly thought – he’s only a little snail – but it made me think about myself. I, like the snail, sometimes takes risks in my life, but I know that I am where I want to be. I need to be in a risky place in order to reach the place I have always dreamed of getting to.

This also made me think of others and how impossible it is to judge someone else’s progress or to make decisions for them about where they ought to be. We can’t always see the whole of someone else’s journey – where they’ve come from or how long it has taken to get where they are. We don’t know how far they are from achieving their goal. Because of all this, yes it’s still important to help others, but it’s vital that we don’t force our help onto others. We can notice and we can offer, but we must never, ever force our help. By trying to ‘help’ someone else, we may, in fact, be taking them further away from where they need to be.

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