a wasp has a drink
a wasp has a drink

I learned something from a wasp today.

I had just finished planting begonia bulbs when I noticed frenzied movement in the tray of water under my pepper plant. I know that moths get trapped in the water rather frequently, so I expected a moth. But no, it was a wasp.

That surprised me because wasps have always appeared to be excellent swimmers. See images, read more,

However, this wasp was not swimming. It appeared trapped in the moat of water around the bottom of the pepper’s pot.

When I offered it some ponderosa needles it grabbed on and I lifted it out of the water, onto the soil in the pepper’s pot. Moths are generally too hysterical to grab an offered life line.

In any case, this is where the lesson begins: The wasp began to devote great effort to stroking it’s feelers and head, then rapidly beating its wings, without, apparently, trying to lift off. As it turned, while stoking itself, I saw that one of its legs was missing by half, which may be why it couldn’t balance on the water the way that wasps ordinarily do.

The wasp went on to stroke the back portion of its body, over and over again.

It seemed as if the wasp was reassuring itself that it was all right, and possibly it was removing any tangible remains of the fear it had felt.

At that point I began to identify with the wasp. How like us, I thought, we get injured and things no longer work the same, something that wasn’t dangerous, suddenly is. The magnitude of the struggle to stay alive increases tenfold, or more.


It’s not just that things have been hard, it’s the waves of drowning fear. For instance, when my water was turned off, my typing deteriorated along with the clarity of my thinking; when my heat and lights were shut off, I was colder than 28 degrees warrants in the absence of fear, read more; when Wells Fargo threatens my home all sense of a solid footing is lost because Wells Fargo qualified me for loan modification under HAMP, then reneged, read more.

I suppose my life isn’t in as much danger as that of the wasp that could so easily have drown, but without question there’s a feeling of being doomed, some of the time.

Over the years I’ve come to realize that I survive the threats and move on. But immediately after a threat I can’t sleep, I begin to shake, I lose physical strength and I just generally feel bad, very bad.

I’m pretty sure that the wasp felt pretty bad when it was close to drowning, and I’m sure that when it was out of the water it didn’t instantly feel perfect again. It had, after all, had its mortality thrown at it.

In response, the wasp took care of itself, it stoked itself  as if it were cleaning every last bit of itself, polishing itself.

So, is a bath the same thing for us?

In part, perhaps, but I think a new dress is another part. It’s the part that wipes away the fear and puts a fresh face forward.

It’s the part that puts joy and beauty where there had been fear, possibly even dread.

Given that I keep surviving, I think buying the new dress sooner rather than later is the most beautiful way to live my life so that it’s celebration rather than cowering.

There are times it’s important to buy a new dress.

6/23/2014 ~ Oh Oh, there was another wasp in one of the vegetable water trays. This is the first year this has happened. I don’t know what is different.

It looked much closer to drowning than the other one. I didn’t think I had time to find something to use as a lifeline, so I put my finger under it. It must have been struggling for awhile, since it didn’t seem able to grasp my finger very easily. I tried again, and again. Finally I managed to get the wasp balanced on my finger enough for it to stay on using minimal effort.

I put it in the near by pepper’s pot and noticed that it took a lot longer for this wasp to recover. But, when it did, it began the same stroking activity of the first wasp.

Thus my conviction is renewed that after a shock we need to take care of ourselves, reassuring ourselves with things that make us feel good.