So tell me, what is your first reaction when you see a snake? Do you have a "natural aversion"? Or perhaps you understand this as a "conditioned response". Conditioned from what or by whom? Maybe you have just the opposite reaction -- perhaps you have grown up with an affinity for snakes.
You see, for me, I have no problem with snakes. I was a camp counselor, and worked at a wildlife display where many snakes were present. We would routinely take out the snakes and handle them, even putting them around our necks for dramatic effect. But it is interesting how many people's reactions are inherently fearful or squeemish, rather than curious or friendly or interested. (BTW, I have my own squeemishness -- just not snakes.)
I received an interesting comment to one of my earlier posts , and thought I would share it in this context (indeed, it prompted this post)
" ... Early this morning, I received a surprised call from this very special man and I must admit that he had, brighten up my day despite the fact that in the midst of our conversation, I could feel goose-pimple "popping" out on the surface of my skin !! He actually rescued a poor little spirit, oops, I mean a flimsy,slimy greenish and yellowish looking snake across the path with a stick as it was struggling to do so. Most people at the sight of it will probably scream their hearts out or they will just run away and withdraw. Gee, I would never be a able to overcome the fear of all the crippy crawly insects, let alone lifting up a snake !! This guy is the real Hero of my life and it takes a lot of courage to do that- what a splendid act on SPONTANEITY !"
" ... As for your story about the snake -- how interesting our conditioning, eh? One person hears this story and feels goosebumps; another imagines putting down the stick and picking up the snake with their bare hands. Educated (so he knows if the snake is poisoness) and experienced (so he knows how to handle snakes, and not exhibit fear), this is no problem at all."
"Kind of like life. We need both wisdom and experience to walk along the path of life, and understand how to deal with snakes and other slithery creatures that cross our paths. ..."
Life certainly is interesting, isn't it. So hard to tell what are "natural" reactions, what are "conditioned" reactions, and what are "instinctual" reactions. It seems to me, any time we find ourselves "reacting", we might choose to analyze the underlying reality.
And give ourselves the space between the event (e.g., seeing a snake) and our reaction (e.g., scream our hearts out), to determine what our response will be.
I believe it was a holocaust survivor who wrote,
"Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom"
-- Victor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning