A Recovery Blog

This blog is about my continuing recovery from severe mental illness. I celebrate this recovery by continuing to write, by sharing my music and artwork and by exploring Buddhist ideas and concepts. I claim that the yin/yang symbol is representative of all of us because I have found that even in the midst of acute psychosis there is still sense, method and even a kind of balance. We are more resilient than we think. We can cross beyond the edge of the sane world and return to tell the tale. A deeper kind of balance takes hold when we get honest, when we reach out for help, when we tell our stories.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Mother Wasp

Winter is gone--only a few cool nights in the 30's. I do not sit outside (...yet) because aside from the neighbors I'm also afraid of wasps and hornets. I've had them in the house--several I have rescued and put outside using a thick drinking glass to capture them, usually on a window, and a firm but flexible piece of thick paper to slide under the glass--then I transport them outside to food and freedom. It's a transportation device. I remember a man I met during my overnight stay at the hospital, probably suffering from schizophrenia too. We were outside in a small group during a cigarette break and he started talking about wasps and how he had befriended them. He showed me by letting a wasp land on him. He was gentle and completely unafraid. I remember being impressed by this because I knew I didn't have his courage and still don't.

A wasp is building a nest in the corner of my front door. I've worried about this thinking that I must knock it down one cool night before it gets too big and becomes a problem. Several nights just before I was ready for sleep I told myself to do it and each time a mixture of fear and guilt prevented me. A part of me doesn't want to disturb the diligent mother wasp--the other part is just simply afraid of the wasp attacking me (which is her right). In this I lean towards thinking like a Buddhist--Can't I co-exist with this wasp and her children? Must I attack her and her nest? Most people I imagine would say, of course you must get rid of the hive. And they may be right--Afterall this wasp can find another home for her family, just not my front door. And if I'm afraid of one wasp, how will I feel about a bunch of them? I know, I know I'm not being sensible. I don't want to hurt the wasp, I just want to tell her to build her home somewhere else. The more I delay, the bigger the hive gets, the more settled she becomes, and the more potential guilt I will feel for destroying her work. But I'm still afraid. I've thought of asking my brother to knock the nest down for me--it really is quite small at this stage--but I feel badly about passing the dirty deed off to someone else. Such are some of my daily worries. Nothing major, just persistent.

Writing about hives makes me remember my voices deep revulsion of hives. I knew enough to be wary of them before I got sick, but afterwards the voices used the image of hives to attack my spirit, making a hive the symbol of their own sickness. I no longer feel their revulsion, just my initial wariness, but I vaguely remember how intense the revulsion was and wonder about it.

My encyclopedia says that some wasps are solitary and others are social. My wasp is solitary. Hornets are a type of wasp, but they are social. I believe I've had mostly hornets in the house. Once inside the house most of them are loyal to a window but a few venture farther. It is these hornets that make me nervous and I find myself fleeing the living room at least temporarily while I have a smoke and consider the problem. I return hypervigilant and try to spot where the hornet is hovering. If I don't find her (or him) I sit down and try to relax. That doesn't last for long and so I capture the small creature and place her outside. A month ago I did get stung but purely accidently. I was putting on a boot that some hornet had decided to sleep in. I felt the sting and knocked the boot and hornet off my foot. The hornet looked dazed and I left it alone. Then I put some cold water on my ankle/calf and hoped it wouldn't swell up. It continued to smart but no swelling and I felt relieved.

I think it's interesting that some wasps are solitary and others are social. I never thought about that before. Basically the same species but with vastly different orientations--genetics at play. Makes me wonder about me and my genetics. Has my very body programmed me to be a certain way? To be solitary instead of social? Ever since I was little there was always solitary time to myself either in the house in Brooklyn or outside at the beach during the summer. I lived part in fantasy and part in reality. Was I always a bit mentally ill? Did my genetic code decide before I was born or did environment play its part too? I'm sure that my environment did play its part but still there was an established tendency in me that just became more pronounced as I grew older.

Wasps help control the insect population though some feed off nectar and honey (or sodas and juice). What a world we live in--eat or be eaten amongst insect, animal, bird and fish life. Something is born out of something else and others die or are killed to keep others alive. The food chain with humans as the prime manipulators due to our larger and more complex brains. We manipulate nature's system through farming and animal husbandry (and murder). And we survive and multiply and multiply. I think there are about 7 billion people on the planet and the number keeps growing. Illness and old age cut our numbers down a bit and accidents and violence but it doesn't stop us. All species have their own predators, usually another species. We are our own predators which is a testament to some of our own immorality. There must come a time when we will have to limit the number of births (as they do now in China) especially if we become a peaceful society (I can still dream...). There is only so much room and only so many resources to sustain us.

I am very small compared to the world of human beings, smaller than the wasp is to me and yet I matter, at least to myself. Doesn't this wasp matter too in the larger scheme of things? If only I could have such a welcoming heart and not be afraid.
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