I believe in signs.
I ask for them all the time. I am a smart guy, but I am not always the sharpest crayon in the box when I am facing a decision… especially the biggies. So I enlist all the help I can get. I ask friends, mentors and I pray. Who or what I pray to has changed over the years, but I have always prayed. All of the oldest, wisest, people seem to come to the common conclusion that wisdom is in ‘knowing that there are things that I do not know.’ So I follow their lead and try my best to ask for help when needed. I believe that our eldest members are diamonds that we confuse as glass. I also have a bit of a radical idea that the elderly are disappearing into Alzheimer’s and dementia in growing numbers because they simply cannot bear to look at the way we treat each other and the world around us. With wisdom comes awareness and with awareness comes an enormous amount of pain and frustration… sometimes maybe too much to handle.
I was walking down the street in Manhattan the other day. It was a gorgeous day and I was feeling good. I was near Washington Square Park and a very handsome, well-dressed, young guy caught my eye. He was on a cell phone walking in front of me on the sidewalk. Here is what I heard him say… I wrote it down because it stopped me in my tracks that I had just heard someone say this loudly, without flinching…
“I will pop a couple of caps in her head. That bitch. I don’t even care if I have to do time. It’ll be worth it.”
He had a backpack on and looked like he was on his way to a college class. I am pretty sure his khakis were ironed.
Now, it was NY, so arguably he may have been practicing lines for a play or something, but I just took 6 weeks of acting classes and it didn’t sound like it to me.
It made me wish I had Alzheimer’s. There was nothing I could do about it. The sunshine turned gray and my body suddenly felt very heavy. But then I remembered that I had asked for a sign that morning about whether I should be creating an initiative around The Good of the Hive. I love the bees, and they completely inspire me artistically, but I was questioning whether or not that was enough for an entire initiative? The homicidal youngster’s words hit me like a brick between the eyes and yet I still wondered if this might ‘somehow’ be my sign. I told you I have trouble with the biggies sometimes.
I know there are things that I do not know.
But there are also things that I do know.
Fear comes in a thousand different forms. Something was scaring this guy… that much was visible in the anger. He was leveraging time in prison (or what he thought that might look like) with the problem-solving capabilities of killing someone… removing problems in a hurry is a popular concept these days. I flipped through the TV last night and purposefully found fifty examples of people saying (and doing!) exactly what that young man was talking about doing. I saw so many brains being blown apart that it gave me nightmares. (I am only watching the Brady Bunch and The Partridge Family reruns for the foreseeable future.)
But I woke up this morning with the bees on my mind.
One of the most amazing things about honeybees is that they have complete mastery over being an individual AND a part of their collective hive. One does not exist without the other, so they work toward thriving within the hive-ish system. The power of their system is derived from connection. Humans, like the honeybees, die off without connection. The bees immune system is collective… and whether we like it or not, so it ours. We have our jobs as individuals, but health is found in connection. We need each other, even if it doesn’t look like it. I suddenly wondered if this young guy’s vicious statement was simply a messed up, misguided attempt at connection? Maybe even a warped, desperate, last-ditch, attempt to show love.
I feel a touch of Alzheimer’s coming on.
This guy should just pop a couple of caps in his own foot instead of metaphorically ‘shooting himself in the foot’ by shooting her. I bet he would start weeping like a baby and realize he’s in love. A miracle is often just a simple shift in perception.
I know that there are things that I do not know.
But there are also things that I do know.
We can change the world with the flick of a bee’s wing. We just need to remember that everything in our world is connected. The smallest of actions have enormous power.
That homicidal youngster was a most unlikely messenger, but he delivered my sign. Are the bees enough to build an entire initiative around? Yes.