Friday, September 07, 2012

Find Beetle Balance: Lessons from a Wayward June Bug

When I was a little girl, I spent hours outside, butter knife at the ready to flip over a stranded beetle, little legs waving fruitlessly in the air. Oddly enough, the neighbor kids didn’t want to join my beetle saving games, so I had a lot of time in quiet, to think, to wonder how the beetle ended up on its back, where it would head now that I rescued it, if it had a beetle baby or beetle daddy waiting for it. My very own secret life of beetles.

I still love quiet and solitude, the only time my imagination frees itself, to allow wooly thoughts to tumble over each other and untangle into ideas. Half of the writing process, for me, is spent in my thoughts, my fingers idle at the keyboard, thoughts that come while taking a walk, which never fails to inspire me. I leave my butter knife behind these days, but wonder if I shouldn’t be on the lookout for beetles again.

I was in the middle of writing about balance after a particularly shaky day trying tree pose. Placing the flat of my right foot against my left inner thigh, twisting open my right hip, swaying slightly as I find my balance on my left foot, leading up into my leg, my muscles tensing and responding to my mind. Only then do I remember that it’s okay to breathe. Letting go a held breath, I relax a bit into the pose – and consider what it means to find balance in my life.

It’s so out of balance, this world. After a bad experience on a mini-bus of death along a muddy cliff’s edge in rainy season Congo, my Action Kivu partner and good friend Cate and I were ready and willing to rent a 4x4 for all future excursions around the region. You see, our friend and guide told us, this is how we must travel. We know, we told him, but we are not prepared for this. We are not prepared to die.

 Our lives in the western world of paved roads, seatbelts and stoplights have conditioned us towards safety. But why should only developed nations have that right? Why is the world so out of balance, that the mini-bus of terror is the only option for so many, whose lives are just as meaningful, whose bodies are just as deserving of seatbelts, who too simply want to return safely from the market with a loaf of baked bread for their kids. It’s out of balance that kids here in the U.S. are going to bed hungry, when we have so much wealth.

Writing this, a June Bug buzzes by my open window – landing with an electric clicking sound on the sill, making its way along the screen. Its unpredictability makes me jump, and as gorgeously green and blue as it is, it is a bug. I note that the space between the screen and the open window is too small for it to get in to my bedroom, despite its valiant efforts to do so. It walks the length of the screen, four of its legs feeling the underside of the screen, peeking into my domain. It seems so determined to find a way in, I wonder if I’m supposed to pay more attention to it. Though I joke that my animal totem is likely a possum, I’ve always appreciated the idea of a spirit animal, guides from nature who remind us of what we need, now.

From starstuffs.com (admittedly NOT a resoundingly legitimate-sounding site) I learned that the “June Bug/Beetle will show how to balance and remain grounded.”

Maybe I should try tree pose again… “His wisdom teaches to navigate what is hidden in the sub/unconscious realms. Pay attention to nocturnal activities: dream time, journeys, and moments of waking, along with meditational impressions. Expect emotions to come to the surface as well as being emotionally tested in order to clean and clear the way for new and better things. …Pay attention to synchronicities. ... June Bug/Beetle demonstrates a higher intuition connection and a keen sense of discernment in all areas. He will show how to dig for answers to reveal the truths you need. … His medicine represents opportunities to recycle, reinvent and repurpose what you have, know, think and act. This self-reinvention may include participating in larger groups to expand knowledge and awareness. … Be ready. In the last two to three years, have you been inspired to do something, have unfinished projects or endeavors that have been delayed? He will show how to progress forward as it is time to emerge.”


June Bug (JB) buzzes suddenly, magically having made its way into my room, clicking against my window. I grab my spider cup (a clear glass I keep on hand to rescue wayward spiders), gently cover JB, careful of its delicate legs, and slide one of our Action Kivu postcards under it (they’re the perfect size for bug rescues). June Bug is immediately on her back, and I flashback to my childhood sidewalk patrols, and tip the cup so she can walk upright. Releasing her out our front door, she flies away, her noisy buzz reminding me to pay attention, to finish those unfinished projects, to find balance in my life to better balance this wacky world, and to carry my metaphorical bread knife, looking for ways to help others get back on their feet, to fly.


Tree Pose, originally uploaded by estimatd.

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