Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The revery alone will do

The daughter of two Self Realization Fellowship devotees, I try to avoid hating any living thing. Surely some good can be found in everyone; surely the divine spark is always there, even if buried far, far within. Actually, that’s not true; I openly detest entire categories of living things, most of which fall into the insect family. Namely spiders, mosquitoes and my arch nemesis: the yellowjacket.

Imagine yourself, on a sunny summer’s day, out to enjoy a delicious picnic on a lush green lawn. You roll out your blanket and arrange the succulent contents of your lovingly prepared picnic basket about you, marveling at the simple goodness of life. Only, no sooner have you begun to savor your joyous summer fare than a yellowjacket comes buzzing angrily into your face, desiring to steal a bite of your meal and threatening you with the prospect of a painful sting/bite/whatever. Then, another shows up. And another. Swatting at them does no good; it only seems to make them angrier. Ugh! Your moment of peaceful enjoyment has been ruined by an unwelcome horde of dangerous, ugly insects. How désagréable.

Let me be clear: I DESPISE yellowjackets. I see one, and my inner “irritation-o-meter” instantaneously rockets from “zen” to “apoplectic.” If I could, I would have every last one of the beastly creatures eliminated, and deal with the karma in my next life (no doubt as a yellowjacket).

I don’t understand those who blithely say, “Oh, just ignore them. They’re harmless.” Harmless?! Seriously? These people obviously have not entirely exited childhood and still think that insects are our friends. Sorry folks; yellowjackets—alias meat bees—are out to kill. They and their horrible little chewing mandibles are the very face of evil. The number of barbecues, picnics, outdoor cocktails and miscellaneous happy moments around the world that have been ruined because of these devilish fiends defies the imagination.

To those who still require convincing, allow me to offer an anecdote. At the tender age of 9, I took part, as I did every year, in that great American institution, summer camp. I always loved summer camp and dearly hope that I can find its equivalent in France for my future Franco-American children; without it, I fear that their personal development will suffer from the absence of kumbayas, handmade crafts and morning chapel that I so cherished throughout my youth.

So there I was at Special Buddy Camp on a fine summer afternoon, engaged in a game of water balloon toss with a group of my fellow campers. The brightly colored balloons glistened in the sunlight, droplets of water bounced to and fro, our innocent laughter rang in the air.... And then, pain. Excruciating, red-hot pain shooting through my inner thigh. OWWWW! I had been savagely stung by a rogue yellowjacket that had landed on me unannounced and uninvited. No good reason was to be had, either: we had no food nearby, nor was I wearing any kind of potentially tasty-smelling sunscreen. No, the wretched beast had landed on my delicate skin with the sole purpose of inflicting wanton suffering.

To make matters worse, my mother’s resolutely holistic approach to healing resulted in her rapid arrival armed with a giant red onion, which she proceeded to cut into round slices and tape—tape!—to my thigh. I was suddenly not only the girl who had gotten stung, but the girl who smelled like onions AND had a crazy mother. In a camp half composed of handicapped children, I had somehow managed to become the “special” one.

Little did I realize this was only the beginning; the damn things being an international source of misery, France has plenty of them as well. Why, only yesterday I was sitting on a bench in a park near my job, enjoying my take-away lunch in the late October sun while nourishing my soul with a book by Thich Nhat Hanh. It was a perfect moment of zenitude:

Breathing in, I calm my body. 
Breathing out, I smile. 
Dwelling in the present moment, 
I know this is a wonderful mo— AGGHHH!

Out of nowhere came an enormous yellowjacket, buzzing not at my food but at my person. Tossing my short-lived moment of zen out the proverbial window, I leapt to my feet and proceeded to do the exact opposite of what Thich Nhat Hanh would have done, flailing purse and book wildly about and unleashing a virulent stream of profanity that did not go unnoticed by my bemused fellow park-goers. I’d say that my journey toward enlightenment is far from finished.

If France has yellowjackets, then it must also have those wonderful gooey traps with which to kill them. I know what I’m doing this weekend. Enlightenment can wait.