This is one of our game questions that I enjoy hearing every time.
Many people are afraid of snakes. Clearly, when you see an animal without arms or legs or hair who can move so fluidly and look so fierce in the face, it usually makes your gut leap. For me, I feel unpleasantly prickly on the back of my knees, although I admire the dignity and focus in the face of a snake.
This isn’t my own story, but it made a huge impression on me:
My friend’s father was in WWII, and badly wounded during a battle, severely wrecking one of his legs. It was night and his unit was either lying dying in the field or had retreated. The man was in shock, lying in a dip in the earth, with a hollow under his back, clinging to life, having lost much blood. The night was cold and he couldn’t move. As he lay there, he felt a snake glide in under his back and torso. There was no way he could move to get away from it, and he was just lucid enough to anticipate its bite. It curled around over and over in a figure eight as it found a comfortable place against his body. It lay there the whole night, the man and the snake keeping each other warm, and the snake’s power imparting some otherworldly strength to the man. (The figure eight, of course, represents infinity; and the ability to live on beyond death.)
By morning the snake had gone, and this man was found. He ended up in a hospital, he lost part of his leg forever, and he was shipped home. He was was never the same after the war, but he had been blessed by the animal many of us fear the most.