I’m Pretty Sure I Saved the World Today

I’m pretty sure I saved the world today.

You don’t need to thank me.

It wasn’t a lot of effort and was without any kind of grand strategy or good will.

I was just eating some soup in the backyard with my achy legs dangling in our very cold and dirty pool and actually scowling at all the work that needed to be done and feeling that panicky pressure that always starts in my chest and wells up into my eyes when I feel overwhelmed by life and am not ambitious or energetic enough to do anything about it. There was dog poop everywhere, the butt face squirrels were having some kind of party up in the pine trees and trashing the ground with chunks of pine needle clumps and there was dust all over the tables and chairs. And that was just the crust on my giant pie of annoying things that needed to be done.

But the sun was shining on my face and the fall day was crisp and yummy, so  despite our backyard chaos I found myself simply enjoying the feel of the water on my calves and the taste of my soup. It was cheddar potato with kielbasa sausage which made it hard for me to maintain the scowl.

That’s when I saw a bee struggling in the pool. I put my soup down and used the empty dog water bowl to scoop him out and gently pour him onto the concrete. I’m not totally sure he was a he, but I think that usually the boy bees are out gathering flower juice while the queen hangs out in the hive and eats honey and makes baby bees and tells the boy bees what to do. Which sounds like a decent arrangement.

I squatted down and watched my sweet little bee just lay there for what felt like forever. “Come on sweetie! You got this!” I whispered in my best bee voice, wondering if I should do some kind of CPR and eyeballing a pine needle as a potential bee defibrillator .  And then he started to finally move and shake off his near death experience. His little front feet squeegeed the water off his furry face and I’m pretty sure I heard a tiny cough but that could be my imagination adding drama to the story. I can’t be sure. He stretched his back legs, then his middle legs and then fluttered his wings. The whole recuperation took maybe ten minutes and I sat there the whole time, my soup forgotten, feeling protective and wanting to be there for him.  When he finally flew away I whooped joyfully “Godspeed beautiful bee friend! Go savor the last of the fall flowers and tell your queen hello from a fellow queen of a distant, messy kingdom!” Which I KNOW is very silly. But I was caught up in the moment. I almost fell in the pool myself doing a little whirling happy dance.

Several years ago one of my friends called me a rescuer but  I know he didn’t mean that I was a good person. He knows me well enough to know I am no Mother Teresa. Not even close.  I just hate witnessing suffering. It makes ME suffer, which I hate even more, especially when there is something I can do about it.. So it was with purely selfish motives that I pulled the bee from his demise.

Isn’t that really why any of us help others, because we don’t want to suffer ourselves?

Think about that with me for a minute.

Anyhoo, I’d have not forgiven myself if I’d kept eating my soup and  turned my back on a good cause: a creature struggling to LIVE. I felt so grateful and less scowly about the poop ridden back yard watching him fly away. The life of this bee could be crucial to the next small thing needed for the sake of the world. You can roll your eyes and say I’m being melodramatic. But that bee wanted to LIVE. I don’t know his role in the world and it’s really none of my beeswax. All I did was give him a leg up in attempt to escape my own suffering And he clearly  had a purpose or he would have not struggled. He’d have just sucked in water and said “Fuck it. I’m tired. Let the other bees make the world as we know it a better place.” But he DIDN’T! He was so tired but he pushed past the fear of almost drowning and the pain of water in his little bee lungs and said “I got shit to do!” And flew away to do it.

This  is just so encouraging to me! And quite possibly, on a small scale, world saving.

Again, no need to thank me. You’re doing your own unique and awesomely selfish acts of rescuing. That’s how it gets done.

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Blooms in the Ashes

I was driving through north-central Washington, three months after the devastating Carlton Complex Fire that burned for ten days in July, destroying hundreds of homes, livestock, businesses and countryside. The town of Pateros was my destination, population 650. I wasn’t sure what to expect but the media reported complete destruction of this small town.

I knew the school structure had survived because I’d played a small part of its restoration by getting new carpet to the school quickly. It was up and running, delayed only one week, thanks to hard work from a lot of amazing people.

I pulled up to the school and witnessed children happily chattering outside the school. From the surrounding neighborhood came hammering and sawing sounds and smells of renewal; homes were being re-built.  Across the charred hillsides, pretty green plants were shooting up through the ashes. And in this fresh greenery were blooms!  Blooms in October! Despite the great loss, beautiful blooms chattered like the children at the school, sing-songing to everyone who would see and listen: “It will be okay! We are here! All will be well! Carry on good world! We are here!” It felt so restorative to me to hear and see life continuing to blossom.

I woke up this morning, after sad, tear laden dreams about people I fiercely love but can no longer see except in the ache of my heart or in the fog of a drifting dream where hands can never seem to touch, and thought about the blooms in the ashes.

What if the flowers said “No! We will never grow again here in this destruction. We cant not! We are not strong enough to carry on business as usual and do what we do: grow and sing and bring our own unique joy to the world! WE CAN NOT!”

What if we all did this? What if death and pain and destruction paralyzed us for the rest of our earthly potential?

When my mom died, and I stepped into and stayed for a while, in a deep, dark emotional cave, I remember feeling this intense, irrational anger at the idea that the world could carry on without this beautiful, wicked funny woman. “No! YOU CAN NOT carry on. YOU can not bloom and laugh! NO! It is not right! She is GONE, oh she is GONE!”

But slowly, I peeked out of the cave and began to see, mostly in my chattering, BLOOMING children, that carrying on does not make that which was once there less. but instead carries it forward and grows it exponentially in great honor. The blooms are the result of the ashes and the ashes will never be forgotten because there are blooms.