The Freedom of a Wasp

I think we have a wasp nest near our apartment. Every once in a while some lone wasp makes its way into our home and I watch it crawling on the window, trying to get out. The wasps I have seen don’t frantically or haphazardly run into the glass over and over again like the flies do. They are more calm, more methodical. And they don’t take a break to go meander lazily throughout the apartment like flies do. They stick to their search for freedom, dedicated. I don’t know how long they would continue in their quest, if they would die trying to try to free themselves or eventually abandon their attempts to escape. I don’t know because I always end up rescuing them. I grab a glass and a piece of paper, gently trap them and then release them on our balcony.

I paused today after one such rescue mission, watching a wasp reach its antennae and then its front legs into the open air in front of it. It quickly realized it had a free path and took flight into the crisp autumn day. I paused and wondered why I always chose to help them when so many would ignore or squish such a disliked insect. It’s not like it was a butterfly or a ladybug. It was a wasp. Infamous for stinging, for frightening children.

As I thought, I realized that I free them for two reasons. One, because of their poor reputation. Wasps are made out to be these horrible creatures with their only aim being to harm. But that specific little guy hadn’t hurt me and it only would have hurt me if it had felt threatened by me, as self defense. It’s not a beloved creature; It’s the bumblebee’s ugly cousin, and even the bumblebee can be loved despite its sting because of its role in honey production. But it’s still a living thing, it still has a role to play in our ecosystem, and it still is beautiful even if it isn’t in the same way a flower or a horse are beautiful.

And secondly, it pains me to watch such a small thing be trapped, captive. To be held back from the one things it wants. I felt in that a moment a great amount of affinity with that wasp. Because isn’t that what we all want? To move unhindered toward the thing we love, be it the sunshine or otherwise. Don’t we all get stuck behind the glass of insecurity, depression, anxiety, only wishing we could be on the other side where all the beautiful, sunny things are? Where the freedom is.

The Freedom of a Wasp

Self-talk (7 of 30)

How do you talk to your inner child?
Do you treat him/her like you would treat someone you love?
What lies do you tell yourself?

insecurities and armor_web

Self-talk (7 of 30)

this > that > the other thing (3 of 30)

One of the things that most frustrates me about myself, and humanity at large, is our seemingly constant and often rash judgements (of situations, people, actions, ideas, beliefs). Sure, there are some things that most people will agree are bad… murder, rape, racism.  And I don’t disagree. But too many judgements are made based on ignorance, misunderstanding, a cultural norm, or excessive pride. So many people have been hurt in the name of “goodness”… But if it causes that much hurt, how good can it actually be?


When you think of the words ‘witchcraft’ or ‘wiccan’ what comes to mind?

Some people would say spells, potions, magic, evil, or Satan.  But where have you gotten these ideas from?  Do you know if they are accurate? Have you researched these things for yourself before making a judgment about them?

I use this example particularly because of my own experience.  Being raised in the Christian tradition, the primary information I had about witches, wiccans, and paganism was incredibly biased and vague. In general the sense that I got was that these practices were evil, dangerous, and from the devil. However, I recently was doing some of my own research (all the while feeling embarrassed for my curiosity, ashamed for my interest, and fearful of judgment if my husband, family, church members, or peers found out.)  But the things that I found were so incredibly different from what I expected.  Take this YouTube video for example (skip to 2:55 for the start of the list):

All this isn’t to say that I am now a practicing Wiccan or anything… it’s just showing a pretty stark example of my assumptions having been based on the views of other people/institutions.  How many of my other beliefs and assumptions have I just absorbed and integrated into my life without checking their validity?

Another example along the same vein is the practice of tarot card readings.  Have you ever participated in a tarot card reading?  Do you simply view them as erroneous attempts at “fortune telling”? Consider these quotes:

“Tarot cards do not tell the future; rather, tarot is a tool for spiritual guidance and enables the person receiving the reading to connect to his or her inner wisdom,” she told INSIDER. “Tarot readings help a person understand what he or she needs to know about a particular situation. Decks are best used as a tool of inner wisdom and guidance, as readings give a person insight to past, current and future events based on the person’s current path at the time of the reading. The cards do not necessarily reveal what will happen, but instead, allow a person to gain an understanding of a situation and determine the best course of action based on what is known and what the cards show.”  (source, emphasis added)

Tarot is a divination method. It’s like a tool for your intuition; it doesn’t just say something on its own. It just helps you reframe a problem and see it from a new perspective.” (@1:56)

“Contrary to what the uninitiated might think, the meaning of divination cards changes over time, shaped by each era’s culture and the needs of individual users.” (source)
So based on these definitions, saying that tarot cards are dangerous is about the same as saying that listening to one’s own intuition and insight is dangerous.

So What?

So, let’s take another specific example: I hate when I see my own tendency to judge and yet I never feel better when I judge myself for how judgmental I am being.  In fact, even as I write this I am making a judgement. I am saying that one way of interacting with the world and people around me is better than another way. (An open-minded, intentional, grace-filled approach toward the world is, in my opinion, inherently better than a close-minded, rash, judgmental approach.)

And yet I am open to the idea that I may be wrong in this… and I would love to have a calm respectful conversation about it with anyone who is willing.

And I guess that’s my point.  At the end of the day, I think most of this comes down to a difference in values.  Something that is not going to be easily “fixed” or reconciled.  Something that takes time, honesty, and a willingness to journey into the uncomfortable.

Perhaps more empathy can be gained by thinking about the situation in terms of personal values:  If one person’s highest values are authenticity and personal freedom they are going to deem different things and ways of being as ‘good.’  (For example, freedom of speech, regardless of its potential impact on others.)  If someone else values interpersonal harmony above all else, they will be more likely to desire restrictions to personal freedom for the sake of getting along. Others may value commitment, patriotism, sacrifice, equality, efficiency, etc. And all of these impact their views of what is right, good, and desirable.  (Another post I wrote about a similar topic of ‘what is classified as a good reason?’ can be found here.)  Not to mention that all of these things are parts of a greater system running… You don’t just come out of the womb with these values.  There are so many things at play in every situation, that have brought us to where we are in this moment.  If you really understood all of those factors (from inborn temperament to family structure to childhood experiences to past relationships (see articles/books/podcasts on systems thinking for more info)) do you think there would still be room for judgment?  Or would we all be able to give each other (and ourselves) a little more grace?

And the thing is, I don’t see what harm could possibly come from this openness to conversation.  Especially given the fact that gentleness and acceptance and a desire to dig deeper don’t mean I am/you are necessarily condoning the behavior. What they do often point to is a preservation of humanity and a desire to understand. And it’s in these spaces of love, acceptance, grace, humility, and connection that we can move toward true goodness (whatever that may be).

Some Questions to Consider

🔸 What things are you judging because you don’t understand them? Or because they threaten your way of being? Or because someone else told you they are bad/wrong?

🔸Do you find yourself using the words ‘weird’ or ‘normal’?  What can that show you about the judgments you are making?

🔸What things in your life do you tend to feel judged about? Your way of parenting? Clothing choices? Career path? Aspects of your personality?

🔸Where are the spaces that you feel the least amount of judgment?  Are you cultivating those spaces in your own life and with the people around you?  


this > that > the other thing (3 of 30)

No Hope, No Disappointment

It’s easier to just share the highlight reel, easier to only show the happy, exciting moments.  Just like it’s easier to be cynical, easier to give up, easier not to hope for anything.  Because it’s hard to deal with disappointment.  It’s hard to fail or feel like I didn’t live up to expectations.  It’s hard for things to not go as planned.  And so I think I have had a tendency during my life toward cynicism.  I have spent a lot of time looking at the potential pitfalls and expecting the worst.  The thing is, you’d think this would make the unexpected goodness more joyful, but instead it tends to just rob the joy from the whole process.  It stunts my ability to authentically care about the things I care about and to get excited about the things for which I am hopeful.

To put this in context, months ago I found out that Jay Ryan of The Bird Machine was going to be one of the artists leading a session at Penland School of Crafts this summer.  I have wanted to learn to screenprint for quite some time now and am in love with Jay Ryan’s work (to prove this love, I can attest to having four of his prints hung in my apartment, in addition to his book on my shelf), so this news definitely caught my attention.  After looking into costs, however, it was clear that I wouldn’t be able to attend without a scholarship.  I spent weeks putting together an application, choosing what to include in my work sample, and getting recommendations.  I was really excited about the possibility of learning a new skill and getting to meet other artists. Even if I didn’t get my first choice of session, I was excited about any possibility of attending Penland.

After waiting months to hear back, I got a response in the mail today.  As you can probably guess, based on what I’ve said so far, I wasn’t awarded a scholarship and thus won’t be attending Penland this summer.  After reading the rejection letter I went outside to sit and think for a while.  I found myself oscillating between emotions, trying to convince myself of apathy yet also feeling definite disappointment.  My thoughts kept returning to, “See, this is why you shouldn’t hope for things.  Getting excited just leads to disappointment.  How did you let yourself fall into that trap?  Haven’t you learned anything?”  I kept trying to tell myself, “It’s better this way anyway.  Now you won’t have to face that social anxiety, won’t have to travel, and you won’t have the chance to make a fool of yourself in front of all those other artists.”  But then something caused me to stop and looked at what was going on in my head.  And as I did this, I noticed a newfound desire within me to fight these thoughts.  I want to give myself the freedom to be upset, to feel disappointed.  I want to use this as a way of helping to gauge what I am actually passionate about, instead of pretending, trying to convince myself that I wasn’t that interested in it.  Now, of course I don’t want to dwell in the disappointment.  I don’t want to let it consume me, but I do think a healthy level of it is okay.  Especially if I can somehow use that emotion to propel me forward try again, to work harder, to keep chasing (and helping to identify) my passions.

“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”
― Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

No Hope, No Disappointment

Systems Thinking // effects of effects

The innumerous nodes of the system shift infinitely, are shifting. In spite of their untangleable entanglement we, perhaps unconsciously, persevere in our belief, our obsession with one directional cause and effect. But the cause of the causes of effects were (a/e)ffected by other causes in the same way infinitely unless there was one first cause, which isn’t that the big mystery, so please no more reductions of the irreducible and solutions to the insolvable. We and me and you.
Let’s revel in the complexity, our understanding complete in its incompleteness.
But I preach

To her
Because she has an undying obsession with answers. Trust me, we know. We tried.
Dying that is. That year. that year is the one that haunts, that demands, that is eternally unentangled. Because him and him and her and them make too many trails to follow; they loop and swerve and intertwine like necklaces thrown in a bag and left for years because that was all an act and the curtain was drawn and the scene changed and now even if she wanted to separate them she couldn’t.
But she does want to separate those chains of days, to complete the autopsy, for what died was her hope and perhaps the black box of her heart could hint at the happenings causing the crash. She may not be able to reconstruct but perhaps she could aid someone else’s avoidance.

But time disperses all nodes which feels more like the continual ripping of stitches rather than the healing of wounds. And she awakes again from the dream of a memory of an idea, who was once flesh. But her reinvigorated desire to detangle is thwarted by the dispersion.
And so platitudes fill her, pumped by the society obsessed with succintness. Forgive and forget to keep calm and carry the dark days tucked away where nobody can see them because they’re over now, over your head, that is. Today is a new day, because we say so even though all the days are the same spinning spherical ballet connected only by the thin strand of memory and the untangleable web of effects of effects of effects of effects of effects…


Systems Thinking // effects of effects

He said; He said.

The water of brain
in the pool of her skull
and the endless reverberations of ripples
Ad infinitum
Of a voice she never actually heard
And ever since she put pills as plugs in the drains of her eyes
There’s still two ways in and one way out
But trapped by the tongue
So no way out,

“I see no architecture here”

They said that to him too
A variant
(Why the constant connections)

“I see nothing here”

She thought he was dead
And he may be
For the emotions surely are
She killed them
Gagged them
Anything to forget them
Because they were
A constant confusion
Though it was simple,

“I see something here”

He seemed to say,
And she had been waiting,
waiting for so long
To be seen.
Not the facade fabricated,
the person of performance,
The Seen Self


a gentle thread to a
fragile whisper
of a being
so long protected
it was mistaken for myth


Seeming is dangerous,
For to seem is not to be,
And she’s always been
too trusting,
And she’s always been
too hopeful,
Blinded by her belief
in her own doubt and cynicism
and their perfidious proffer of protection
against the hurt of hope

Now left with simultaneous aches
from the words said and silent:
An ache to return and remember
and an ache to flee and forget,
She sits
wondering if she would have done anything different
had she known.


He said; He said.

The Stranger

*knock knock knock*

I wonder who that could be… I’m not expecting anybody… Gosh, I hope it isn’t my landlord to show the place, everything is a mess right now…

I leave my dinner prep and walk to the door. I glace through the peephole and see a man I don’t recognize. Uh oh, I wonder if something is wrong downstairs or if I’m walking around too loud. I open the door about a foot and peer out.

“Hello?” I say in a friendly, yet questioning tone.

He looks slightly confused and says, “Oh, hi, I’m here to see Eric.” (I already forgot the actual name he said.)

“Uhh, sorry,” I say, as we simultaneously realize he is at the wrong door and a look of embarrassment comes over his face. “I’m not sure who Eric is.” I wish I knew who that was so I could direct him to the correct apartment… Should I suggest the one at the bottom of the stairs?

“Jesus Christ,” he mutters as he fumbles for his phone in his pocket, clearly trying find the message with the correct apartment number. “I’m so sorry.”

“It’s no problem at all,” I say cheerily as I close the door and return to my cooking.

I hope he finds his friend. Man, I really should have met my neighbors and learned their names.  It’s definitely too late to do that here, but I really want to make an effort at our next apartment building.

As I stir the vegetables in the pan, my mind continues on.

Oh jeez I hope I didn’t offend him or anything by only opening the door up a foot… It was only because he was a stranger… I would have been timid opening the door for any stranger… Maybe less hesitant with a woman, but all unexpected men would make me tentative… But I hope he didn’t think it was because he was black.  I would hate to have just unintentionally played into any racial insecurities he might have.  Hmm…I wonder if me thinking that he might have been offended is considered racist? Or thinking that he might have insecurities?  Was me thinking that his friends might be the black people living in the apartment at the bottom of the stairs racist? I mean, I didn’t want to assume that, but they have a lot of visitors and most of the other people have moved out for the summer… But the fact that I didn’t suggest that he look at that apartment… was that a good thing? Or did that just mean I wasn’t being helpful? No… probably better I didn’t say anything.  He just seemed so flustered, I wish I could have helped. 

Is this a helpful internal dialogue?  To question my reasons for doing this and how they may or may not have impacted others?  Is doing this going to make me more aware and sensitive or just more likely to overthink things and make them awkward?  I genuinely want to be aware of other people’s feelings and reactions, but I am also aware I can’t control those.  I want to be sensitive without tiptoeing.  For a long time I just did my best to ignore color and race… to view everyone as the same.  But in Gardner’s class we learned that that is basically erasure, which isn’t beneficial either.  So I should recognize race and the potential for prejudice, and then… what?  Also, I know there’s a difference between racist and…what’s the other term… racial?  I need to read more about this.  Maybe the blog world could have some helpful input…



The Stranger