There is this little spot where the wind always whispers to me when I am in most need of wisdom. Not far from my home, on the southwest summit of Stone Mountain, I find comfort in sitting upon a rock under a gathering of strangely dwarfed pine trees. The view is spectacular, especially at sunset when the warm orange hughes dust over the clouds leaving the Atlanta city skyline as nothing more than a gray silhouette. It is no wonder I am so inspired by the wind there.
One afternoon I ventured to my little spot to enjoy the warmth of the midday sun. Tired from the climb, I placed my backpack upon the ground, sat facing into the wind and sipped water from my travel bottle. I thought it odd when my eye caught a wasp walking towards my bag. He delicately trembled when he walked stopping every few steps as if to catch his breath. As he crawled onto my bag, I began to panic. I did not want to be stung by this wasp especially since I was allergic to his sting. My seemingly rational fear swarmed through my mind, causing me to jump up and pace around my bag. How was I to get this wasp off my bag so I could concentrate on the wind?
My fear turned to vigilance as I cooked up little schemes for getting the wasp off of my bag. I tried tipping the bag over so he was forced to fly away but he did not respond to my initial light tap. So, I increased the intensity of each bag tipping incrementally until I was finally forced to pick up the bag and shake it with short violent thrusts . My boldness was alarming, especially since I was so afraid of the wasp. Yet this wasp was unfazed.
I sat back down, nearer the bag than before, puzzled and perturbed. Why won’t this annoying wasp leave me be? Why would he not respond to my nearly violent bag shoving and pacing about? A moment passed and I was then struck by the thought, what if he could no longer fly? I had never thought that a wasp could become ill or lose the ability to fly even though it is an inescapable truth that all things die. My fear of this little creature had not only made wasps angry and aggressive, but also immortal.
A calm warmed over neck and shoulders like being wrapped in a fleece blanket. I was no longer afraid of the wasp. I sat quietly and watched as this little wasp, never wavering in his courage, wobbled up to the southwest summit of my backpack. Upon reaching the top, he reared up and lifted his arms into the wind. A tremor ran through his body as he struggled to move his wings. Strain after strain, tremor after tremor; for nearly twenty minutes, this little wasp struggled to take flight. Breathless, he wilted, only to give himself up to ultimate failure. How was it that something with such an angry sting now garnered every ounce of my empathy?
This day on my sitting rock beneath the tress I did not hear the wind whisper. Instead, with a roar, the wind screamed into my mind that despite it’s ugly sting, life offers us these unexpected little moments to be courageous, empathetic and free all at once. Sometimes, we are so disturbed by what we are taught is beauty that we wither into to a blindness by fear and a deafness by our selfish internal murmurs. Although I cannot promise that I won’t continue to panic when I am confronted by a wasp, at least now I know I am only afraid of the pain of the sting and not the stinger. Maybe this is why no matter how deeply we are pained by the sting of loss, disappointment and failure, we cannot fear moments to be courageous, empathetic and free.