A Surprising Change of Mind About A New Neighbor

 A Surprising Change of Mind About A New NeighborI have a small home office set up in a sunny bay window of my sweet apartment on the Upper West Side of NYC, an adjunct to my official office near the Flatiron Building on W 23rd St.   About a month ago, on a nice breezy spring day, I heard a very loud and very close buzzing, the kind you never want to hear so close to your perimeter.

I panicked to see a gigantic bumble bee (is there any other kind?) flying up to and around the window 3 ft. from my elbow.  Let me be clear.  I hate bugs, especially buzzing flying bugs.  I jumped up and standing on my side of the window, started to wave it away.  I banged the glass with my hand, shooed it with loud yelling (“get outta here”), even got a cloth towel to wave around to scare it away.  Still the bee kept bumping into the window, as if it was trying to get inside.  Only a thin layer of glass kept us apart.  Again and again it flew away and then returned in a deliberate way, clearly looking for something.  After several frustrating minutes, I stepped way back to size up the situation and figure out Plan B to frighten this behemoth away.  Suddenly, I noticed a small hole the diameter of a pea on the inside of the upper window sash, still outside and away from me but facing me.  Oh no, I thought, oh no….and sure enough, just like that, this bumble bee, the size of a 747, finally flew up and under and right into that tiny hole.  Oh shit, I thought.

I’ve got a bumble bee hive within arm’s length of my workspace.  I was not happy.

For several days I was on edge, afraid that somehow bees from this window hive would find their way into my apartment.  But then an amazing thing happened.  We settled into a little routine all our own.  I noticed that the bee came and went several times during the day and that it always had the same difficulty accessing that hole in the window.  I began to root it on, urging it to fly a little more to the right, speaking gently to it, trying to guide it home.  (“You can do it!”) I cheered when it finally got its grip to pull itself up into the hole.  In windy weather, it got blown around a lot and I began to admire its tenacity.

And then I started to welcome it home each time it approached the window, no longer afraid of something so large, so loud and so strange coming so close.

Recently I heard the neuroscientist Gerald Epling discuss contemporary research proving that plants have emotions and can communicate those emotions with each other.  If the leaf of one is purposely burned, its neighbor plants react with wild distress, as does the plant itself.  Somehow I’ve always known that plants are fully aware and communicate with us.  I find great comfort in this.  And so I’m sure that my big bumble bee buddy understands my warm feelings for it and somehow reciprocates that.

I feel very protective of my bee neighbor now and marvel how I went from wanting to spray and kill it because it scared me to stopping mid-project to welcome it home.  To be honest, the looks of it still frighten me so I don’t look too closely.  Still, it’s a lesson in how different life can appear when we confront our fears.  No boogy man here. No dangerous “other” intent on harm.  We’re just fellow travelers, doing the best we can, trying to figure it out, accepting each other’s difference, sharing a common home.

It’s touching, really.  When Girl falls for Bee, Peace on Earth can’t be far behind.  😉

What is your child’s ‘bumble bee’ and how can you help them see it differently?

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