The advent of Spring brings open windows, bare feet, and warm sunset breezes in my apartment. It brings fresh-cut flowers, sun-steeped tea, and sunrise inversions before work. It also brings bees who crawl through the tiny cracks in my relatively ancient brick walls, whose buzzing energy light up my late nights.
I’m not really sure what draws their attention to my apartment. They come in at night, one or two at a time, sick, frenetic, and incoherent. I watch them swirl around my living room, bouncing off the blades of the fan, onto the ceiling, onto the bookshelves, and eventually burning themselves in my lightbulbs before they collapse to the floor.
When I watch these bees, I am reminded of the animalistic instinct of reactivity that all creatures struggle with. This is the struggle for survival and freedom amidst a falsely contained and automated world.
Sometimes I can catch them when they fall to my floor. If they’re still alive I’ll put a glass over them. As I carry them outside, I wonder if they know they’re dying. I wonder if they’re angry because they know they’re fighting against the inevitable. I set the glass outside on my fire escape, and try to talk them into flying away. They deserve fields of wildflowers, rather than the concrete of the city. But they don’t ever fly away. They stay, exhausted and struggling. By sunrise the next day, they’re dead.
… & You & Me
Why is it that when we’re suffering, we often want to hurt ourselves more? We take refuge in consuming poison to distract us, rather hold our pain with compassion. We seek information that lights us on fire, rather than cools our burning. We recall stories that confirm the worst possible conclusions about ourselves. We yell and push without pausing to listen or receive. We’d rather collapse while fighting for our version of reality, bouncing around and reacting to things outside ourselves. Those are the things we’re told matter most, and most of us go on living in this feverish way without question.
It’s a tall order, asking animals to go against their instinct. Just as we can’t blame the bees for their frantic reactivity, we cannot blame ourselves for ours. This comes out of a quest for survival. It is the completely natural result of the search for stability and permanence in a world that is constantly changing. It scares us and we react to that fear, fighting for our version of reality to stay put. And when it doesn’t, we burn ourselves. We break. We collapse. We fulfill this self-destructive imperative: my reality, or none at all.
This isn’t a criticism. It is a plea: may you be kind to yourself and others. It is a request: may you find freedom from your fear. It is a wish: may you take refuge in the things that really matter. Fighting against this world of containment and automation isn’t the only way. There is another way out.
It is a prayer: may you find wildflowers instead of concrete.