A few weeks ago I took my studies to Starbucks to in order to take a break from the normal hustle and bustle of campus. I got my usual order, a vanilla chai tea latte, and selected a table next to the huge floor to ceiling windows, which brightly illuminated the corner. As I settled down to do my work, I couldn’t help but notice a soft but incessant buzzing. Turning my head, I spotted the culprit–a tiny, black and yellow bee no bigger than my thumb nail was very persistently flying into the window next to my table. Not quite willing to commence the mounds of work in front of me, I watched the bee for a few moments. Aggressively and repeatedly the bee flew into the window only to ping back against the glass.
To me, it seemed to have an air of desperate rage, wanting nothing more than to fly freely into the crisp, clean air beyond the confining window. I pitied the bee as I imagined it being wholly irritated–to be so close to its goal and yet unable to obtain it. I also found its tenacity inspiring. Each time, with as much gusto as the last, the bee wound itself up and flung its tiny body entirely at the window. I silently hoped the bee would notice the door perhaps six inches to the left. As the next customer opened the door, I was sure the bee would notice and realize the folly of its ways. It would then fly triumphantly into freedom. As the next person walked to the door I intently watched the bee with, I’ll admit, mildly anxious curiosity. However, as the door opened and the person left, the bee took absolutely no notice of it as it flung itself against the glass one more time.
Disappointed, I turned away from the bee. Doing my best to tune out the sing of its buzz and the ping of its body against the glass, I refocused on my school work. Perhaps five minutes later I noticed the buzzing had stopped. I glanced over and saw that the bee was no longer tossing itself against the window. It now sat motionless on the window sill, fatigued, and staring longingly at the open world beyond the enclosed box of the Starbucks. I remember thinking to myself how sad it was that the bee had given up. I directed my attention back again to my work, but couldn’t help myself from occasionally pausing to glimpse at the bee, who, aside from the slight sporadic flutter of its wings, sat completely motionless.
I believe there is humor to be found in my overly empathetic response to the anthropomorphized emotions and perceived shortcomings of this decidedly insignificant bee. However, I can’t help but reflect on the metaphor that I witnessed in the bee’s actions. At times, we all get caught repeatedly flying into windows. We get so caught up in what we think we should be doing and where we think we should be going that we don’t always see the barriers holding us back. Pushing through is not always the answer as it is not always possible. As I watched this bee try desperately over and over again to get outside, I could clearly see it would fail every time. I recall thinking that the bee was entirely stupid. Is this not the same as repeatedly trying to force a failing relationship to work or pretending to be a physics major when you hate all your classes? Sometimes we need to take a step back, realize there is another way, and then walk through the open door that was there all along.