TWO-BEE-CONTINUED

Awhile back I wrote a few words about bees. You can read my encounter here.  I would like to share two quick lessons from bees.

macro photography of bee on flower
Photo by Thijs van der Weide on Pexels.com

LESSON #1) Bees sting. If you are old enough to read this, chances are you’re a victim.  Remember that first bee you ticked off?  Remember the buzzing dagger catapulting towards you from a striped kamikaze Hymenoptera?  Remember the inflamed pulsating welt it left behind?  Remember your inability to catch your breath from crying too hard?  Remember grandma pulling out her home remedy book suggesting a treatment of mud, honey, baking soda, apple cider vinegar, toothpaste and a wet aspirin tablet…none of which seemed to work?

It didn’t take long for you to realize that you hated bees – rather passionately too. You warned everyone that came near a bee to get in a defensive posture, saying “Watch out, you’ll get stung!”

But, we all know bees aren’t bad. We know the war we waged against the fuzzy buzzy pollen packer was unwarranted.

“Just because you are allergic to bees doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the honey.”

Consider EVERYTHING you encounter in life as a proverbial bee. It has some pros and cons.  It might buzz around your head, it might sting, and it might even bring an army after you.  On the other hand, it might pollinate your plants and provide an abundant harvest.  It might bring you honey.  It might show you its waggle dance, and quite possibly sting that annoying dog next door.  Now, whether or not you wage war on a particular “bee,” that is up to you.

LESSON #2) Bees don’t fly in a straight line. Okay, technically they do when they head back to the hive – they “beeline” home.  But when they forage, they fly around in an erratic pattern that looks similar to a bathtub scribbled on by a two-year-old.  Why?  I don’t know.  Maybe it’s a defense mechanism against predators.  Maybe it’s because their brains are similar in size to a housefly… (the same thing that bounces itself into your window for several hours at a time).

Looking back at my individual journal entries, I see that I’m similarly erratic in a number of areas. For example, there have been several times that I thought I knew FOR SURE what career path I wanted to follow.  In no particular order, I wanted to be a Disney animator, a website developer, a journalist, an author, a nurse, a cop, a cook, an entrepreneur, a salesman, a carpenter, a rapper, an Independent Duty Corpsman, and an arborist. I have even considered jobs such as a tattoo artist or bartender (both completely incongruent with my values and beliefs).  Then again, bees don’t always land on flowers.  Sometimes they land on moving windshields, or get stung by a cactus.  I think we can all admit to perching on a “cactus” or two throughout our lives.

THE CHALLENGE: It’s okay to meander your way through life.  Try new things!  Explore!  Plan your life in pencil – not permanent marker.  30 years ago I had no idea that I’d be where I am today.  I imagine the same will hold true 30 years from now.  So just focus on gathering pollen, staying dry and getting back to the hive – i.e. Stay close to your family and serve them.  And while you’re at it, try not to sting anyone…it will probably hurt you more than it will hurt them.

CUSTARD CURES

Imagine with me for a moment that the world was coming to an end, or that society was saaaay….upside down.  Envision people running to and fro crying out that nobody could tell them what to do or how to live, not the government, not a prophet, not God himself, that all that stuff is just madness. 

Image that all the while, people failed to stock their shelves with the necessities of life and failed to plan ahead.  Imagine they purchased the fruit, but not the fruit tree (and only after the Fudge Rounds were sold out).  They bought the bread, but not the flour to make the bread.  Imagine that it was like Black Friday every… single… day…, but instead of toys, people were buying toilet paper…and LOTS of it.  Not for friends and neighbors,  but for themselves.  Imagine there was no toilet paper left on earth, as if there were a deadly plague going around.  Surely the children of Israel cried out, “Who needs Moses when there is all this toilet paper?!”  Not that the world is coming to end or anything.  But, lets face it, your life is (sorry fam)…and probably not from the virus that’s making you scoop up all the Scott and Charmin anyway – so stop dwelling on it.

Besides, I’d rather have dish soap.  Yeah, yeah, TP can wipe the brown custard like substance off your crack (as well as being a useful fire starter).  But dish soap is much easier to store, can wash a virus off my hands, can wash my clothes (not to mention dishes), can ALSO remove the custard like substance from off my crack – and even BETTER than tripple ply Cottonelle (it’s called a shower people), and Dawn does a darned fine job at shining my jewelry… in case the virus DOES kill me (Who doesn’t want to look their best in a casket anyway?)

Today my beloved wife scraped her knees when my lazy dog played dead between her 8.5 minute per mile feet.  My thoughts in order were:
1)  I hope she’s okay
2)  That was embarrassing
3)  Life goes on

(Sorry if my stoicism offends you.)

Yes, people are dying all around you from COVID-19, but it doesn’t mean you won’t scrape your knees today. People are dying all around you for a plethora of other reasons too (and having birthdays ruined).

Today, someone is likely to die from a vehicle collision, cancer, heart failure, snake bite, spider bite, shark bite, and even choking on a bagel bite.  Someone will fall off a ladder, slam their finger in the car door, loose a finger at the saw mill, and accidentally poop their pants while searching for toilet paper on an empty Walmart shelf.  You are not immune from any of them

THE CHALLENGE:  Worry about the stuff that matters!  Be a responsible citizen, Coronavirus is indeed the “F” word, but don’t stop living your life because others are dying. While you are on lock down, put the Fudge Rounds away and try learning something new – like how to be self sufficient. Maybe try baking a loaf of bread or learn how to grow something edible. Just in case, you know, the world decides to come to an end.

A LESSON FROM CORONA, KENNY AND KOBE

Growing up my dad loved the oldies as well as a little country music.  I could stomach the oldies, I even enjoyed a few songs.  The country – not so much.  Kenny Rogers was a household name, my dad loved the guy!  But now my dad is dead.  In fact, Kenny Rogers is dead.  He died of natural causes 2 days ago.  As a young child you don’t think about death.  It felt like my dad would live forever.  It felt like Kenny would live forever.  It felt like I would live forever.  By the way,  I wonder how many people will get a Kenny Rogers tattoo?

Kobe Bryant died a few weeks ago.  I watch as much basketball as I listen to country music (zero) – combine that with my stoic nature, and you’re looking at someone who simply wasn’t as shocked as the rest of the world.  Of note, I found it baffling how many people came out of the woodworks to get Kobe tribute tattoos (but that’s a discussion for another time). 

Today, the news is reporting that the Corona virus doubled in a week to surpass 300,000 cases (add another 17,309 at the time of writing this).  Currently 13,671 deaths have resulted from the virus.  That’s a lot of tattoos!  (Maybe start investing in ink and needles instead of toilet paper – but I digress.)

I am going to die.  You are going to die.  Someone you love is going to die.  Maybe not from a helicopter crash, maybe not from a virus, but die we must.

Sometimes I ask people how long they think they will live and how they think their life will end.  When the question is reciprocated I answer, “cancer.”  But my answer changed today.

Here’s a prediction for you – you will die just like Kenny Rogers – of natural causes.  I too will die like Kenny Rogers.  We will all die like Kenny Rogers.  Everything is a “natural cause.”  It doesn’t matter if it’s a helicopter crash or a virus, cancer or a gun, drowning or electrocution, hanging from a tree or hanging on a cross.  It’s all natural.  It’s part of mortality’s condition.  Whether you suffer or go in peace, have your life taken by another person or take it yourself, it’s still the same result – DEATH. 

THE CHALLENGE:  Take a lesson from Corona, Kenny and Kobe.  The virus isn’t even dead yet and there are ALREADY a bunch of tattoos for that thing (Google if you don’t believe me).  Live your life valiantly.  Do what you love and be the best at it.  Leave your mark (pun intended).  Be unforgettable.  Measure yourself by the number of people who measure themselves by you.  COVID-19 changed everything in a week, you can make decisions to change your life just as fast.  Will you make the changes you want to see or continue to procrastinate?  Think about it.  Corona gets the job done because Corona doesn’t procrastinate – another 1,247 confirmed cases just in the time it took me to write this.  Go do something.  Make a change.

OLD LOVE

Not that I’m festive about these shenanigans, but, let’s just say Another February 14th is in the books.   Ahhh, young love…or should I say, young lust?  How many illegitimate babies started as a candy heart flirt?  How many herpes simplex viruses were passed along like a hot Valentine potato?  How many hearts were swooned with a box of chocolates and crushed with the iron hammer of deceit and jealousy?

But then again, who has time to worry about that?  I know I don’t.  If you’re like me, you found your love and that love has been alive and well for a very long time.  In fact, “time” is everything when it comes to love.  Love isn’t one dimensional.  It is a living breathing thing with many layers; love manifests itself in different forms at different times and in different ways.  It starts as a seed and grows to mighty tree spreading its branches, shedding its leaves and standing upright in the face of violent storms.

“Love is like a friendship caught on fire. In the beginning a flame, very pretty, often hot and fierce, but still only light and flickering. As love grows older, our hearts mature and our love becomes as coals, deep-burning and unquenchable.”  -Bruce Lee

Love must prove itself.   Love is true when it can face the light and the shadows just the same.  Young love is on a perennial honeymoon, parked on a beach chair, sipping on lemonade and waiting to be served.  Mature love however, can run a marathon in the scorching desert sun on an empty stomach with no water and a sprained ankle…then back again!

I discovered a gem of a paragraph in a delightful book of fiction entitled, “A Man Called Ove” by Fredrik Backman. 

“Loving someone is like moving into a house,” Sonja used to say. “At first you fall in love with all the new things, amazed every morning that all this belongs to you, as if fearing that someone would suddenly come rushing in through the door to explain that a terrible mistake had been made, you weren’t actually supposed to live in a wonderful place like this. Then over the years the walls become weathered, the wood splinters here and there, and you start to love that house not so much because of all its perfection, but rather for its imperfections. You get to know all the nooks and crannies. How to avoid getting the key caught in the lock when it’s cold outside. Which of the floorboards flex slightly when one steps on them or exactly how to open the wardrobe doors without them creaking. These are the little secrets that make it your home.”

THE CHALLENGE:   Ponder the previous paragraph and apply it to the one you love.  Do they know you love them for all of their little imperfections and shortcomings?  Do they know how special they are to you because you know the “little secrets” that make them your Valentine?  Most important, do they know you love them just the same, whether it’s February 14th, July 14th or September 14th?

LITTLE WHITE LIES

If you could take a lie detector test right now, would you pass? “It depends what they ask me.” Oh, so you have some history to hide? “I guess, yeah.” Okay…tell me then, what would make you fail the polygraph?

This is a question I LOVE to ask! Especially in small groups. It’s a great conversation starter. I get chuckles in the end…along with a few white lies, but I know my audiences have more dirt. So I change my angle. What’s your favorite lie? I mean, what lie do you love to tell yourself? This gets some interesting responses as well.


Eventually they come around and ask me for my answer. “Easy” I say, I love to tell myself that I’m hungry when I’m really not. I love to tell myself that I am much healthier than I really am. I love to tell myself that I’m going to be a great painter, when reality is (at least for right now…see – there’s another lie) that it takes so much effort to pick up a brush. I have a much better shot a being a great pianist because I LOVE music and sitting down to create it takes ZERO thought, ZERO effort. The fun in asking and answering this questions is that it allows me to be brutally honest with myself, and hopefully will lead to the best course corrections. #seeyouattheconcerthall

THE CHALLENGE: So, what’s your favorite lie? Why do you tell it? How would your life be different if you stopped believing your own lies? What relationship could you strengthen if you were more transparent? What lies do you expose yourself to in the media or other outside sources? Would it benefit you to decrease exposure or remove them entirely? I challenge you to beware of the lies you tell yourself. Beware of the lies others bombard you with, and remove deciet from your lips entirely.

ONE CALL, LESS THAN $1.00

I just made my (let me get out my calendar) **biannual** (albeit always random) trip to the dollar store.  The customers it attracted were as cheap and out of place as the products that lined the shelves.

photography of one us dollar banknotes
Photo by Burst on Pexels.com

I stood in line behind a woman that looked like Naomi Campbell, at least I think she looked like that – I couldn’t tell because she was roughly the weight of 3 head of cattle.  (You can check my no-nonsense weight loss program here!)

With no cart or basket, her hands tightly grasped the merchandise – none of which were critical to her existence – yet she blurted out, “There’s only one register open?  Somebody better call for backup!”  Apparently, she overlooked the fact that she was in the DOLLAR STORE…and there were only two people in front of her.”

marketing office working business
Photo by Negative Space on Pexels.com

I glanced forward towards the cashier.  She was also not starved for food, an appearance she masked with massive fake eyelash lashes (employee discount?)

The woman behind me grabbed a vase that was left on the endcap.  “Oh, wow – it’s only plastic, I thought it was glass,”  She said.

And that was my moment of clarity, enough to remind me not to shop at the dollar store for some 730 days.  Let the counter begin.

THE CHALLENGE:  Maybe it’s time to make the call.  Not the call for more cashiers so you can buy more fake eyelashes, food, and imitation vases in less than half the time so you can then go to another store and consume more crap you don’t need.  Make the call to have less.  To be still.  To gain some self-awareness.  To be aware of those around you.  To be conscious of the world you live in.  Make the call to be productive.  Make the call to educate your mind.  Make the call to invigorate your body, and treat it like a temple taking pride in a healthy appearance and glowing countenance.   Make the call to not be impatient.  If you are stuck in a long line behind a slow cashier, use that time to learn, to reflect, to set goals, to brighten the day of someone behind you, to pick something up off the floor, to pray or meditate, to sing, to make a meaningful phone call or text.  In short, make the call to be productive and useful connecting with self, others, and your higher power.  The best part is, this call is free!

SAY IT MO BETTA

I’m guilty of it too.

You record a YouTube video and at the end remind your audience, “don’t forget to subscribe and smash that like button.”

I hear this invitation on most videos and therefore “gots ta tell ya, there’s a way to say it mo betta”…or PLEASE, not at all!  By the way, the like button is not a bug so there will be no “smashing” of buttons to begin with.  Second of all, no one in the history of the internet (not very long, but still) has ever “forgot” to subscribe to your YouTube channel.  Think about it, when is the last time you turned your car around or pulled off to the side of the road because you forgot to subscribe?  Never, ever, ever.

Somehow this seems to be a modern day equivalent to, “How are you doing today?”  Rarely is that inquiry authentic.  The response is even more half-baked.

Invitations are a very peculiar thing.  You either shouldn’t be asking for them, or nobody wants to accept.  For example, “Will you be my friend?”  “Will you be attracted to me?”  “Will you love me?”  These are very elementary.  We all know that they take care of themselves.  It’s just nature doing her thing.  If someone likes your YouTube video that much, they are going to give it a cat call like two dogs sniffing butts.  (Would you say that sentence is raining cats and dogs?  Sorry – I digress)   It’s going to happen without your assistance.  On the other hand, “We need everyone to participate in the next homeowners association meeting.” is an invitation that might not go over so well.

So what is a good invitation?  People tend to help when it’s something that takes little effort and minimal commitment.  For example, “Will you take our photo?”  “Would you mind holding the door for me?”  “Can you save my spot in line?”

THE CHALLENGE:  Think about what you are asking other people to do.  Words have meaning.  Don’t spray your audience with invitations “just because.”