I am a human being. How am I going to use my gift of consciousness today? Am I awake? Am I aware? Am I advancing myself and my world in some way, small or large? These are the things I ask myself this morning as I awaken before dawn. I’m tired, I don’t really want to get up yet, but I do. I go about my morning routine and before long the sun has risen and I am full of energy. Something has shifted.
I go to the front door and peer into the overhead recessed light, looking for my tiny petty tyrant, the yellow jacket that has been pestering me lately, for days invading our entryway. I am determined that he will not nest there. And so I have become his petty tyrant as well. He is not where I last saw him. I wonder if perhaps I’ve finally out-pestered him.
I see him and his comrades stealing tiny wood fibers from the latticework on the back deck. They scrape tiny filaments off the top frame of the structure and fly to their chosen nesting spots. My yellow jacket flies around to the front yard and right up to the front door. By the time I notice him, he has constructed a tiny nest; a cluster of four or five honeycombs dangles from inside the doorway. When he leaves I knock his nest down.
“Sorry, but you can’t be here,” I tell him. He comes back. Persistent, he begins to build his nest again in the very same spot.
“Don’t you get it? I don’t want you here!” He flies away and, again, I knock the nest down.
I don’t want to harm the insect, yet I don’t appreciate his abode of choice and so this process between us goes on for a few days. Yesterday, after I had knocked the nest down for the billionth time it seemed, he went away and didn’t come back. Or at least that was what I perceived because he didn’t come buzzing angrily at me every time I stepped out the front door, letting me know how disappointed he was at my presence in his life. But then I noticed that I had been tricked! The persistent little devil had only moved a few feet, into the recessed light fixture right above my head.
“Okay, you little trickster,” I said, “I’ll get you yet!” And so I waited until evening, when I knew he would be sluggish. Just as it was getting dark, I asked Chuck to reach up and knock down the tiny nest—this time with the yellow jacket nestled inside it—a little too high for me to reach. Now I’m not a fan of messing with the wasps and bees of this world, so I stepped back inside and let the fearless man in my life take this turn at delivering the message to my nemesis that I just didn’t want him around.
“It’s okay, he’s on the ground,” Chuck called to me a few seconds later. We left him there to struggle and I turned the porch light on, hoping that the heat of the bulb would deter him from settling back into the housing of the light fixture. And so this morning, at first glance, I was pleased to see that he was not there. Does this mean our process as each other’s petty tyrant is over?
I ponder the role of the petty tyrant, always ready to point out something to us. This little guy makes me face the fact that I do not like tiny stinging insects, but, even more than that, he lets me know how some tiny, pesky little thing can blow up into a major battle and soon take over. A good amount of time and energy went into the recent battle between the yellow jacket and me. I tracked him as much as he tracked me. Was it really necessary? Well, yes, I think it was. There was something I had to recapitulate.
The wasp making a nest by my front door reminded me of the two wasp nests that flanked the back door of my childhood home when I was about seven years old. My parents, rarely attentive to such things, had let the wasps take over and two large nests were in full operation on the day that I rushed up to the door a little too fast for the likes of the wasps. As soon as my hand touched the handle to pull open the screen door I was dive-bombed and stung by two wasps simultaneously, on either side of my forehead. Within seconds I had two very painful egg-sized lumps forming high on my temples. Not only did I look ridiculous with my Frankenstein forehead, but I was in agony! In addition, I was furious with my parents. How could they let such a thing happen to me! How could they not have noticed those nests!
I had been dodging the wasps for weeks. Once aware of their presence, I began using the front door, but for some reason on that day I had forgotten! I was in such a hurry that all caution went to the wind and I sailed right up to the door in total forgetfulness.
One evening, a few days later, my father donned his bee-removing gear—a large hat covered in netting that tied under the chin and big leather gloves—and climbed onto a ladder and pried both nests from their perches on either side of the back door. I stood far back in the yard and watched him do this. Now he was my hero, just as Chuck was last night, but at the same time I never forgot the experience. My seven-year-old self has been wary of the painful stingers of those tiny flying tyrants ever since.
Now, in full consciousness, I confront my flying petty tyrants again, this time in an inner process, for I know that I must use what nature brings me for personal growth. I will not allow occupation of my entryway by petty tyrants, I conclude. I will not be controlled by outside forces. I want free access to my outer world and my inner world. I guard and protect my ability to flow freely.
Beyond the front door I accept that I have little control over what happens in my yard. Even as I write this, I look out the window and see that the robins have flipped the hose I’ve tucked into the mulch around a newly planted peach tree and are now bathing in its spray. I laugh at those petty tyrants.
I’m not really annoyed by the robins as much as I am by the wasps, and I have to ask myself why. They are all just being nature, doing what they naturally do, but, as I said, I want free access to that which is mine, and so I will not tolerate the pesky yellow jacket so up close and personal.
I pause in my writing and go outside and right the hose, making sure there is a nice puddle of water for the robins to work with. I know they just want it for nest making, for I’ve seen them working as diligently as I’ve seen the yellow jackets scraping the latticework on the deck. For the past few days, I’ve watched the robins dragging nesting material through the mud before flying off with it dripping from their beaks.
The robins and the wasps are nature being nature and I am part of nature too, but a certain degree of consciousness was awakened on the day I was stung by the wasps at the age of seven. I remember thinking that I had gotten through my whole life, until that day, and never been stung by a bee. I knew that it was a momentous occasion, that it was a rite of passage. Now I had been stung and I was no longer the same person. I had experienced something that could never be undone and I could no longer brag that a bee had never stung me. As I experienced the pain of the stings, I was jolted into full body consciousness, leading to awareness of inner transformation.
It was a big moment for my seven-year-old self. I have continued to use the lessons I learned that day. I have never let a wasp build a nest by my entryway. Keeping watch over my doorways became one way I maintained control in a world where we often have very little control. And to this day I still do it, because I know that my child self was right that day, that you don’t let things get so out of hand that they injure you and cause you pain. But I also allowed the stingers in my forehead to awaken me to an awareness of my inner world. I knew that a transformation, an awakening, happened that day as I experienced that jolt of pain.
It took me a long time to really fathom those lessons, and a whole lot of years of pain and suffering had to ensue before I figured out how to use the consciousness raising that occurred that day. I carried the lessons deeply inside though, and have since put them to good use many times, always aware now to not let things get so bad that I am overwhelmed and, in addition, to look for the transformative lesson that is always being presented.
Consciousness, as Chuck wrote about in his last blog, is our unique gift from nature. As I contemplate that yellow jacket, I am aware that we often undertake life with the same repetitive persistence. We continue to do the same things over and over again in spite of the consequences. Our habits control us, until we wake up to the fact that they have been stinging us on the head for a very long time, alerting us to wake up and stay awake. It’s time to act differently, they tell us. It’s time to change. We are no different from the wasps and the robins if we don’t use our most unique gift of consciousness to change.
Nature instructs. Are we awake?
Still watching that entryway, and wishing everyone a transformational week,