This past spring, I noticed the a steady stream of bees flying in and out of a tiny hole in the ground in the narrow walkway between my house and garage. It must be the entrance to a hive. My landlord had left a can of wasp and ant killer in the garage, but with all the news about colony-collapse disorder, I didn’t really want to add more carnage to the bee deaths. Plus, they didn’t really seem to pay much attention to me, they just whizzed past, going about their business. I decided to not take any action and see if we could peacefully coexist, leaving each other alone.
The strategy seem to work for the next several months. Often, I hardly even noticed they were there, except for the occasional bee zipping past. Then yesterday, as I was walking back from my garage with a load of laundry, I felt a sharp stab in my leg and looked down to see a spasming bee sticking out of my calf. I flicked it off and rushed back into my house before more bees swarmed me. Aside from the immediate pain, the feeling dominating my mind was a sense of betrayal. Why did this bee decide to sting me today? Why today, of all days? I didn’t do anything differently, I wasn’t harassing the nest or anything, why did this bee break the truce?
As I was folding my laundry, I realized something. I had been in an angry mood while walking back with my laundry. New neighbors recently moved into the other house on the property, and although I think they try to be nice people, they can be rather… obnoxious. They smoke cigarettes in their yard, and the smoke comes in my windows. Sometimes I can hear them screaming at each other. Sometimes, like that afternoon and every day for the previous week, they play really loud music. Hearing the music in my living room, I was getting myself worked up into a pretty juicy self-righteous fury. I started to wonder if the bee had sensed this hostility and, given my proximity to the hive, felt it needed to defend the hive.
When I first noticed the hive, I was always careful to walk quickly past the hive and not do anything to antagonize the bees. I think that mindfulness ensured I gave off a neutral, respectful vibe. Since the sting, I’ve had to walk past several times again, and I haven’t had a problem, perhaps because I’ve been paying close attention to my state of mind when I’m near the hive.
Maybe this incident is a reminder from the universe to stay mindful of my thoughts and emotions, to not let myself get worked up into that self-righteous fury that serves no good for anyone. A reminder to constantly “bee mindful”. [Insert groan here] I’m usually not a fan or corny puns, but this one is too good to pass up.
Anyway, that’s the narrative I’m choosing to construct from this series of events. I like how this makes me feel better than the many alternative anger-filled narratives I could create. We have more control than we think over how we react to events that occur in our lives. Even when bad things happen, we can choose to find a lesson to learn, rather than give into mindless anger.
P.S. After I calmed down, I had a chat with the neighbors, and they said they’d keep the music down in the future. Since it was during the day on a Friday, they thought no one was home and it was safe to play loud music, not knowing that I often work from home on Fridays.
I find that calm, respectful dialogue is usually a much better approach to addressing conflict, instead of lashing out in self-righteous anger.