Friday, August 21, 2015

A lesson in lady bugs

I have been meaning to post this all week -- but I just never got around to editing it. So, unedited, here it is...

A while ago, I was walking on the beach and the ladybugs helped me to understand boundaries. Here's what happened.

I noted often when I walked along the beach that bees were washed up with the tide.
I kept track of them, so that I wouldn't step on a stinger.  I wondered what caused them to be there, but I didn't worry about them. Perhaps I think of bees as so strong and capable that they are above worry (though this surely is not the case given our issues with pesticide).  Maybe once I saw one that was water-logged but still struggling to stay alive. I can't remember giving it a second thought.

One day, however, it was not bees strewn along the coast, it was ladybugs. It seemed as though there were so many of them, everywhere.  This time, I noted just how many were still alive and truly struggling to either right themselves or get away from the rising tide.

I fell into that trap so beautifully mocked when the animated ladybug begins to talk and it is a man's voice in A Bug’s Life.  I saw those ladybugs as helpless without intervention, and that their death would somehow diminish the world that I needed to step in. I was truly concerned.  The poor little helpless ladybug, I needed to step in.

I started by trying to turn over the ones whose little legs were furiously agitating trying to get right side up.  I stopped and turned over quite a few, and then I realized my folly. Sometimes in turning them, I had gotten sand on them -- wet sand. Even those I managed to right without soiling were still struggling in the wet sand. There was no way they would reach the dry sand before the threatening tide would sweep them right back into the ocean.

I never stopped to consider that these little guys had already survived [ON THEIR OWN] this far ... or that their loss might just be a natural part of the life cycle.

As I continued to walk and see more and more of them struggling, I devised a more elaborate plan. I would pick them up, place them on my shirt and let them dry out as I continued to walk. Once back near my car, and far from the waves, I could release them onto some plants. Surely this way, I would SAVE many little precious ladybug lives so that they could happily eat the mean, nasty bugs on the pretty plants.

Feeling I had bested fate, I assiduously picked up ladybugs and then watched them as they either snuggled to my shirt or walked around.  One in particular disappeared into my hair.  Many of them did a lot of walking and when a breeze caught the area near my shirt in just the right way, they opened the red spotted wings to dry out the black flying wings underneath.

At first I was still concerned, convinced the wind would carry those little bugs back to the wet sand and certain death.  As I watched them, unable to reason or cajole them into doing what I thought was best, I realized just how self-sufficient they were.  With careful, reasoned effort, they made the best of the situation despite the giant's interference.

I watched in amazement all the way back to the car, sure that I had not only done the right thing but had worked in partnership with these little guys to give them another day - another chance at eating malicious bugs.

As I approached my car, I talked to the bugs, letting them know my plan to deposit them safely on plants.  I chose some lovely flowers and tried to coax them onto the flowers and leaves.  One or two refused and fell onto the sidewalk.  I drove home content in the belief I had done my best to help these defenseless waterlogged creatures.

At dinner, I was telling my parents all about the ladybugs.  I looked over at my mom and noticed a ladybug in her hair.  I thought that must be the one that hung out in my hair and had somehow flew over to my mom.

It wasn't that night, but perhaps discussing it with my parents that made a light bulb begin to glow.  Slowly because these kinds of revelations take time, I guess, I understood the ladybugs had been trying to teach me a lesson in boundaries.

They never eschewed my help, but they didn't take it openly either.  Those that could not turn on their own gladly gripped my skin, but I had to chase the ones that were already right side up on rocks. Once on my shirt, they no longer *needed* me - they made their own plans for survival - happy to take the ride but free to leave whenever they felt the need.

That one decided to take the ride all the way home was proof that they were in charge of their own destinies -- and my help was either an unnecessary situation they could exploit or another nuisance for which they needed to devise a new strategy.

It turns out that I neither have the responsibility or the right to decide who is helpless, needs my help or should take my help.  It it is important for giants and people in general to know this ... but it is very, very hard for me.

How I have been trying to use this lesson is languishing in another draft ... to be continued.
[Warning .... I have not started this draft, so it could be awhile given my writing habits these days.]

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