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“Numbing the pain for a while will make it worse when you finally feel it.” - J.K. Rowling
The weather has slowly been getting warmer, encouraging us to shed our winter coats and on the days of greater sun and warmer temperatures, our long sleeves as well. The flowers are starting to bloom and come out into the sun and thus, the bees are starting to follow suit.
What turned into a blissful appreciation for the change in temperatures, has suddenly become a scene from a thriller movie, causing shrills from my little ones – the loudest probably from me.
Now, normally, as an advocate for pollinators, I am all for the bees. But there is something about seeing a little buzzing body the size of a lima bean that has the ability to zig-zag around me unseen but only heard, that causes my adrenaline to go cursing through my body and shrieks to come flying out of my mouth.
And I know. I am the adult.
Everyone tells the kids to stand still and the buzzing threat will leave them alone. I don’t even bother. I’m too busy screaming to even know where my kids are. I am focused on running like a mad woman all over the playground, hands flapping in the air shaking my body wildly to discourage any potential stingers from heading my way.
And I know. Honey bees aren’t interested in stinging me. They have a job to do. And even the wasps and yellow jackets, they too could care less to sting me – I’m just not that important to them.
Despite all of this, I continue to run. We all have a tendency to run from the prospect of pain.
But why do we run?
It is instinctual to run from pain, from things that cause hurt. People take drastic measures just to avoid hurt. And yet, it is a part of life. It exists just as the sun has the moon and the dark has the light. So, just as if we were to never go into darkness to only see the light, we would miss the brilliance of the moon, the hoot of the owls, the quiet space countering the activity of the day. We miss knowing true joy if we don’t know true pain. We’d live in monotony, not really living, not experiencing the bad, but certainly not living the good either.
What gets me even more is that the literal sting of the bees isn’t even that bad. I can count the times I have been stung on one hand. All three of my kids have never even been stung before. Yet, they still instinctively run. And don’t blame the mom. Well, fine, blame a little bit. But seriously, I see it in strangers on whom I have had no fear-instilling influence. Even those who have never been stung still are aware of the prospect of what a sting means, and they run for the hills.
Ironically, when running I have tripped over a rock, stubbed my toe and even run into a tree (not even mentioning the bruised ego of flailing around a playground full of children and their parents). All of this pain is still not considered when I first started my escape from the sting. My focus was solely on that bee, tunnel vision zoned in on the sting, the pain. Yet, this focused avoidance caused more hurt than my original fear. So, what can this tell us?
Avoiding pain brings different pain.
But still, it’s more pain. It’s human nature to not want to hurt. Sure, there is a curiosity if the fire will burn, so the temptation is to touch it. But if touched, the reaction is swift and certain. It’s hot. It hurts. Don’t do that again. So, instinctively we want to avoid pain, look for pleasure. And that makes sense.
However, when it comes to emotions, the stuff that’s already there, there is no choice to touch the flame. The flame is already in us, the fire burning. It’s just up to us when we decide it’s time to release it. It’s likely going to hurt on the way out, and that anticipated pain is so powerful, we cannot see through that prospect of known pain, and we hurt more in the long run preventing any attempt of removal.
But when it’s out…
There is freedom. There is resolution. There is the ability to see things – to see life – in a new light. Even better you don’t have to guess the pain of the sting. You felt it. You know you can handle it. You can’t always prevent it from happening again. But this time, and now for the next time, you know you can get through it.