Monday, June 11, 2012

Between The Lines


It is alarming to find a large bee buzzing in one's confines. Anomalous, it penetrates the senses. Whether on the sixth floor of a hotel in Vancouver, or a tent in Aberdeen, a wasp or bee is perceived as immediately threatening. And instinctually, one turns to see how the devil it got in. Ah! It came between. There is a crack at the balcony-door closure; a tiny hole above the zip-line of the tent. An aperture! And the bee, eventually evidently finding it, attracted now to the smell of an ordered-in ham-n-eggs-breakfast; or back then to the sweet smell of my molasses carton, came buzzing in. An image, yoking past to present. Instinctually, one wants to kill the threat of the thing. At least, that's been my experience with others in the room. Some shriek and cower. Some back away silently. Some wave and chase and even aggravate it. Some sit still, fearfully, but stay silent. Some sit calmly, even will let it land on plate or back of hand, and know that it will take a taste, and then lift off up, up and away. But the bee who bashes in perplexity up against the window-pane, buzzing as belligerently as any belabored being against the apparent curtailment of intentions to be free, is the one who annoys us most. And the instinct is simply to rise, and kill it. After all, if it found its own way in, why not find its own way out? In Aberdeen, back in August of '75, I was holed up in the hazel head campground, seemingly unendingly. The North Sea oil rigs were not accepting job applications. The immigration police, I was sure, would be catching up with me any moment now. It was cold. I had no more money. I had no valid documents to be there. The campground owners let me stay based on my prepayment. And my sketchbook was my source of income. The tourists liked quick sketches of themselves in front of edifices, and the money was just enough to provide me with basics; bread, molasses, tea bags, and the occasional can of peas. Eventually, I knew, I'd have to leave, head directly North, get across to the Orkney Islands, and then make my way around the world, if needs be. But I was not going back to Africa. I was not about to face a court martial for AWOL, not after having spent almost five years in and out of conscription. I was making a bee-line for freedom! And who knew where that might lead, at that time. But like the lone bee in my tent, bringing others eventually to my sweet molasses pot too, I knew somehow that my explorations, that my direct actions, that my very intentionality would impact a myriad of others along the way too. The thing about that first bee, you see, is that it tasted the richness of the find, and then made unerringly its way back to the tiny gap in the tent zipper, only to return yet later with yet another, and another. At one time I counted six or even seven bees in my tent, all because of that one first dearest bee, yet all there, really, however indirectly, because of me. Here in Vancouver, as we wait for the appointment from our hotel room on West Broadway, the bee is loud in the room. But then it makes up its mind and heads unerringly for the very small crack by the slightly opened sliding balcony door, and zooms out. Free! We do not give it chance to bring others. But inside me I know that each and every action has outcome, has consequence. And consequence, unlike the modern connotation, does not necessarily end negatively. We shall arise soon, and I shall go to Innesfree, and there sit in the bee-loud glen, wrapped not just in memory.

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