So, today, I got stung by a wasp. I was washing dishes in my sink, and I reached to grab a thermos, and it was hiding on the back of the cup. He got me on my pinky, and it hurt so badly. It swelled immediately, and I couldn’t bend my finger. I was so angry at this wasp, I am ashamed to say, I killed him. Not once, but 3 times. 3 violent times. After he was dead, as weird as this sounds, I felt regret rush into my heart. I killed a tiny little being, who was just as scared as I was. His reaction was to sting out of fear, and I took it to heart.
This tortured me as the day went on, so much so, that I tried to make up for it. I was cleaning and rearranging some stuff today, and I saw a spider crawling on some of my clothes. I hate spiders. I mean I hate them! They scare me. Anything with more than four legs I tend to avoid. I get chills just thinking about a spider, or any too-many legged creature crawling on me. When I saw the spider, I ran to get a tissue, and I immediately remembered my murder this morning. I wrapped the spider up, and I ran out the door, with it still in my tissue, worried that I would squish it, or that it would fall off the tissue, or that it would come after me with all of those tiny, gray, hairy, way to dexterous legs before I could get him outside. I made it out the door, placed him gently on a piece of fireplace wood, and felt proud that I didn’t kill him. But I still felt bad about that wasp.
At this point, you are probably thinking that I am crazy, and I am not entirely sure that you aren’t correct in your assumptions. A few hours later, I was thinking about the wasp again. (I’m telling you, he has haunted me today, haha!) I thought about how we were both scared, and how we both took each other by surprise, and how even if we didn’t realize it, both of us as creatures of nature took to our flight or fight response to any immediate danger. The wasp? Stung me. My response? Kill the wasp. All of this happened within the span of 10 seconds. A 10 second exchange of fear, miscommunication, defensiveness, and revenge. That’s when it hit me. This is what humans do to each other all the time. All. Of. The. Time.
We see something that offends us, or in some cases hurts us, and we immediately respond with some kind of action. It automatically creates a “me vs. you,” or an “us vs. them” scenario in which someone has to “win.” We act almost immediately, usually in anger, and we get all puffed up and proud and defensive, often asking, “How dare they?” It doesn’t matter the situation either. Someone pulls out in front of somebody on the road; a waiter messes up an order; someone has to wait extra time on something completely out of any one’s control; someone dares to question to status quo; someone goes against expectations; someone speaks up about something he/she finds wrong; someone is just…different. We are so tolerant of our twins and so scared of anything that fits outside of our parameters of expectation, and just like my response to that wasp, we get angry, and in some cases violent.
Now don’t get me wrong, as bad as I hate to admit it, some people are just jerks. But guess what? We all can be! If you could’ve seen me killing the wasp, you would’ve been horrified at how diligently I killed it. (Imagine, Jack Torrance in The Shining, with a little less of a creepy smile.) The fact is, we all land on both sides of this coin. I have found, that like the wasp, most times when someone lashes out in anger for no apparent reason, there is a reason. The majority of the time, we will never learn that reason. But what we do know, is that if we are honest with ourselves, and the situation is just right, we can admit that we have all done the same thing at some point in our life. We lash out either due to frustration, worry, stress, sadness, difficult times, bad days…oh, there are so many possibilities. Sometimes we sting people with our actions and our words, and sometimes we get stung. Neither situation is a good place to be in.
I tell this story because it opened my eyes to the fact that sometimes we just need to slow down. We don’t have to be obsessed with “winning,” or proving ourselves or getting revenge. We don’t have to return anger with anger or rudeness with rudeness. We never know what people are going through. Life can be so hard that sometimes it feels as if we walk around with our defense shields up, ready to squash and squelch anything that looks at us funny. This week, just today even, let’s think twice before we return negative behavior with negative response. Instead, let’s put ourselves in the shoes of the neighbors, friends, acquaintances, and strangers that we come into contact with. Let’s remember life is hard enough without making it harder for anyone. Let’s treat our stings with the healing balm of love rather than stinging reciprocation. We all have bad days, but we all deserve good days. Every last one of us. And, I hope that you have a fabulous one.