The Three Amigos
June 6, 2007

I seem to spend a lot of my time wrestling demons. It's always been a part of my adult life: make breakfast, eat lunch, fix dinner, wrestle demons. Impatience, doubt, pride, and hopelessness pop out of the Pandora's box of props embedded in the puppet show of my imagination. This happens on a regular basis. Most times I win the battles, other times I sustain significant "collateral damage." Even though the mechanized devils grow weary and worn, black feathers fade to grey, springs rust and sprockets come undone, they resurrect themselves regularly in vividly orchestrated private screenings.

Most performers will tell you that immediately after a show they float on a "high," then the next day, or within the next few days they inevitably take an emotional plunge. Yesterday I crashed. Today I crashed again. There should be an online crash pad for such times--a kind of padded cell/spa for performers to go when they fall off the wall. It would be interesting, in a shadenfreude-tinged way to find solace in the company of peers going through the same kind of downer. Then again, maybe you have to do it alone, maybe that's part of the deal.

When you perform you have this temporary feeling of belonging-ness, of being forged together into a coherent society, like a photo of a family reunion or a class photo. In that moment you are an individual, and more than an individual; you are part of a tribe. You can't always choose your family. You don't always like your tribe, but they're yours. Today I feel the jagged edges of my alone-ness, the torn fragment of a larger picture. In a word, I feel lost. As lost and miserable as a rain-soaked bumblebee on a frigid Northwest Pacific morning.

Today at UBC Farm we cleaned our garden plots of bolting radishes, arugula and kale, making way for new transplants: pansies, sunflowers, and basil. I helped one team pick flowers and leaves off some giant kale plants that they'd pulled out by the roots. In amongst the edible yellow kale flowers I found three miserable wretches: a trio of cold, wet bumblebees. They were clinging to the stalks, waiting for the sun to come out when they were so rudely displaced and nearly crushed. I carefully tore off their chosen stems and placed each bee on a white rock so they could preen themselves and dry off now that the rain had stopped. They moved awkwardly and slowly, so slowly that I surmised that at least one of them may have been near the end of her life-span.

I showed the first bee to the boys, but the infirm bee was upstaged by a colony of red ants that erupted out of a hole one of the children had dug to transplant a pansy. (Eggs! Larva! Aphids!) I know it's kind of silly to get attached to an individual bee, but I hope my three fuzzy amigos lived to fly a few more hours in the sun. That's the wonderful thing about falling in love with bees. It takes you out of your own skin. It takes your mind off the dread you feel in your guts and fills you will compassion for a more vulnerable creature. As Mr. Sondheim writes* "Demons are prowling ev'rywhere/nowadays....", but if we take care of one bee at a time, Nature has the power to inspire, sustain and feed us on the dark days. Our lives depend on it.

* "Not While I'm Around" by Stephen Sondheim