Today the bumblebees filled the white flowers in my hedge and got all their expectations met. I’m guessing this, of course, by the happy wiggle of their fat, striped, pollen-coated bodies. I’m guessing, by virtue of the sheer number of bumblebees that I saw out of my kitchen window while gazing down the long, white, nectar-filled hall of flowers that is my hedge.
Also today, I made vegetable soup with the contents of my refrigerator drawers. Also, bean and rice and roasted portabella mushrooms. Also, I walked to the creek and played King of Tokyo and made a bearded lizard habitat.
Today, I mostly exceeded my own expectations.
I wish I didn’t have them, of course. I wish I were like the bumblebee, or like what I imagine the bumblebee to be: purely in pursuit of the present, purely here, in the flower, or there, in search of it, and knowing exactly what it is.
But I have to admit, there is one thing that was tricky. Expectations-wise, I mean. See, it came to me yesterday – in a flash of crystal clarity– that I really do have to stop watching all TV until after California Witch Camp.
Even though I had just started my free seven-day trial of Starz, and I was going to try to watch the whole Outlander second season in seven days…
But I had received this email from two of my many amazing teachers, in this case, Ravyn Stanfield and Suzanne Sterling. I’d signed up for their sacred leadership program last year and it's midterms, and the email said something close to:
Our challenge to you is to pick five areas of your life that you will give your energy to for the next six months. And only five. And one of them must be self-care.
Go ahead. Try it. Just try! You see how easy it isn’t. But I knew when I read it that it was so necessary for me to tell myself the truth in this way, the truth of my own capacity, and my own not-a-bumblebee expectations.
So I did. And I got to tell you. When I made my list, Jamie Fraser of Outlander was not anywhere near it. And I've been reading those books for twenty years.
But it didn't matter!! I could see it. So clear, like I said. All the time I’d have. The way I’d reclaim my imagination and my calm. Yes!!
Then I was on the phone with my friend Uncle Bear and told them this, how I was going to just Stop Watching TV and they were like "Just stop? That's like going from heavy cream to skim milk!”
"It's worse!!" I said. "It's like quitting dairy! And I've always said I wouldn't want to live if I had to quit dairy. I mean, I make hot fudge sundaes for myself at home."
“That’s why I love you,” Uncle Bear said. Bear is a profound and wise and thoroughly embracing-of-pleasure person, which is one of the reasons why I love them. And another is that they get how humans work. As evinced by this comment: “Okay. So...Okay, maybe, you try it.... You do your best. And," Very gentle voice here. Uncle Bear, being so gentle. "Iif you fall off the wagon, you focus on harm reduction."
I started laughing so hard. Harm reduction! “And this is why I love you!” I said. “Okay, what is harm reduction in this context?"
"No junk" Uncle Bear says. “Quality. Pay attention to what you watch.”
So now I have to ask: does Lost World: Jurassic Park II count as not junk? I sure as fuck hope so. Because that’s what I watched, like three hours later, when my son came home and we finished setting up the bearded lizard habitat and I remembered it was Friday night movie time.
Expectations. I know this doesn’t happen to bumblebees. Principally because they don’t have Netflix accounts.
But I will say this: there is a role for TV in mothering. Which is definitely one of my five areas! I didn’t used to think so, before I became a parent. But of course, I was perfectly certain of a lot of things having to do with child care before I became a parent, many of which were pure horseshit.
Yes, there is a role for TV there.
But tonight, after Forest had fallen asleep watching his new bearded dragon bask under the heat lamp, I did not turn on season two of Outlander, or the just released season two of Bloodline (!!), even though both called to me like songs under my skin. Even though there is something so intoxicating about leaving my world for a place of nectar and certainty.
Instead, I turned down the lights and lit the candles and laid my body down on the rug and did little stretches until the animal nature of me, which has no desire to watch TV, until that part of me returned and filled me and settled me into my own skin. And then I rose, and carried my laptop to the couch, faced the candles, and the silence, and the perilous landscape of my own expectations and began to type: Today the bumblebees filled the white flowers in my hedge…