Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Wasp's Nest

For the last several weeks I have taken notice of a little wasp working diligently to build a nest in-between the cracks of two panels on the exterior of my office building. I step outside several times a day to remember what the sunlight looks like as the fluorescent lighting can be a little too depressing for me without periodic breaks. Every day when I went outside, I looked up and noticed the tiny little wasp so busy but making progress each day with more and more honeycomb-like cylinders added to the nest he was building. Just now as I was outside, I looked up and saw the nest gone. Then I glanced to the ground and saw the little wasp lying on the ground utterly lifeless. It made me a little sad. For weeks I saw it working so industriously. It would fly away but return within minutes. I’d see it busily working early in the morning and late into the afternoon as well. I was used to it there and had finally gotten to the point that I didn’t flinch when he dropped down from the panels near my face and quickly headed off for more supplies.

As I saw the wasp’s lifeless body lying there today, my thoughts pulled me outward. We live in a world that has had a long-standing inclination towards violence, greed, carelessness and lack of respect as long as it is a means to someone’s end. That desired end is usually based on fear or greed and even poor mental health. My thoughts pulled me out even further to just two weeks ago. I was replanting the flower beds in the front of my house when I noticed 3 cars full of kids speeding by far too quickly to be able to stop at the stop sign a short block away. I worried for a moment for them and then became distracted with something one of my children needed. When I returned to my planting my neighbor stopped by and asked if I heard the crash. Immediately my adrenaline rushed as I knew something had happened to one or more of the cars full of kids I had just seen speeding by. My neighbor hadn't seen the cars but he heard the crash. We all headed out towards the main street they traveled on just moments before. I felt the blood rush from my face as I saw one of the cars wrapped around a pole. Sadly, one of the passengers in that car, a fourteen year old boy named Phoenix Nguyen died.

They were on their way to the beach a subsequently published article said. They were just driving, goofing off on a sunny late Saturday afternoon, not a worry in the world in that moment and it suddenly came to a tragic end for all involved. I watched sadly as fire truck after fire truck, ambulance after ambulance and police car after police car headed in that direction. We were witnesses to 3 cars full of kids racing at excessive rates of speed and may need to testify. It’s probably unlikely but that’s not my point. My point in my very round about way is that we are born and raised here on planet Earth, none of us knows how long we have until our time is up so we work day in and day out, not thinking, not caring that much, living in denial even that we are not immortal, until the day we’re suddenly and sadly, for our friends and family, gone.

It’s so hard to feel secure and live in a world like this on some days. Amongst the tragedy and horror of the world, there is good too. But, you really have to look hard for it on some days. If you’re not aware and awake as you go through your routine, you might miss a kindness bestowed upon you randomly either in thought or action. You might miss the beautiful rays of the morning sun spilling across the sky to fill our days with rich and radiant light. You might miss an awe inspiring vast and depth-less expanse of starry night sky. You might miss a hint that someone you love needs a little reassurance that you’re there and you love them. You might miss a subtle clue that your life is escaping you quicker than the sands through an hourglass while you don’t even give it a second thought. I say, don’t miss those moments. We can’t all have what we want and we, incarnate, are not immortal. We are utterly human, fallible, mental, uncaring at times, loving at others and totally lost in terms of why in the heck we are here.

We have to take so much on faith if we want to find a blink of serenity or even a touch of lasting happiness. I can understand why so many dive into a bottle or drugs or other bad habits to divert the sensitive seeming soul from experiencing pain. We run from it. We hide from it. We try to ignore it because we’re taught it’s not okay to hurt. We should be taught from early on that life is filled with pain and the more hard lessons you learn in life, the harder and faster those lessons will come. We should then be taught that the former line of thinking is far from the end of the world and a far cry from a reason to jump the gun and do yourself in prematurely or wreak emotional havoc on the world. I think the trick is to find small meaning in everything that you do. Maybe you forgive an employee a trespass, maybe you withhold your anger at the guy who cut you off on the freeway, maybe you stop yourself from yelling at the customer service representative because her company made a mistake and will soon correct it if you can be patient long enough to make her understand or you just do nothing when your emotions take over. Maybe you just sit with whatever you are feeling long enough for you to resume control of your thoughts and then take non-threatening, cautious, considerate and appropriate action. What if the world thought about this stuff more? What if we slowed down a little bit and gave everything a tiny bit more thought before we acted on an urge towards violence or greed or hatred even? What if before we rendered any judgment, we truly sought to understand the perspective of the other side? What if we could look at someone else and see the same thing within us too? It is there whether we see it or not. I don’t know, maybe the world could be a better place for all for the very short time we are here.

My thoughts now come back to the vision of my little dead wasp at my feet. My sadness isn’t so much for him as it is for the fate of the world. If we can’t find a way to make a change in how we live our lives and live those lives meaningfully, we’re all just wasting time. I don’t want to waste any more time so I’m going to make every effort to think hard before taking action, try to see the other side of things before I render a judgment and will think even twice as hard before I interfere with any life that crosses my path. I don’t think I do this to seek happiness. I think that I really want only to find spaces of serenity in which I can respond to both the good and bad in life from a place of centered-ness. I don’t want to be thrown from my center any more by crashing cars, dead wasps or random emotional trauma. I also don’t want to be pushed from my center by elation or over-joyous feelings. Those seem to have a very "high" effect followed by a "low" effect. I think I should like to learn how to respond and appreciate everything for what it is…quite simply, a life lesson that will reside in my soul while here incarnate and beyond for eternity.

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