Consider the Bees

This weekend was great. It sucks that we had to gather because of the death of such an amazing woman, but the experience of our Ohana-style wake was beautiful. Singing, crying, laughing, drinking. People ate fire and potato leek soup. Women danced with swords on their heads. Drummers called to the gods with their hands. And we torched a unicorn! For a too-short time, our tribe came together to love each other and remember our dear friend Nicki. Sunday was spent in various forms of hangover and afterglow, noshing on the leftovers and trying to recover emotionally from the catharsis of Saturday.

A friend of mine asked me today,

"Do you ever feel a sense of emptiness after having been at a place where everyone is hugging, and then going to a place where no one touches each other?" 

Yeah, I do. I see other people complaining of being in a funk today. It's more than just a "case of the Mondays" or residual hangover from the various libations we poured. It's more than grief. What it seems we're mourning is the loss of a good experience of being human.

A lot of status messages today are talking about getting back to the "real world". What they mean is, "back to the grind. Back to work." Back to the places where we're detached and unable to just be ourselves.

Why is that the "real world"?

Why can't we get together and play music and dance and be free to be ourselves all the time? Why I tell someone that I think they're astounding every day? Why does it just have to be at funerals or when the shit hits the fan? We distract ourselves with the "real world" and ignore the important things - each other. We put off actually living for another day. When tragedy happens and we're reminded just how short life is, we cling together for a brief time and then scatter, saying, "We should do this more often, just on happier terms."

Why don't we?

We've got it backwards.

And that sucks.

I don't want to lose what we had this weekend. For a few hours, all differences flew out the fucking window. Old grudges or dramas went into the fire pit along with that damn unicorn pinata. For a while we allowed ourselves to fall apart and be perfectly, unabashedly, nakedly human...and we took care of each other. No manipulations or bullshit. No taking advantage of raw and vulnerable people. When someone needed to break down and cry, there was a quiet corner with loving arms for that to happen. When someone needed to be lifted out of melancholic haze, there was a pint of cider or a cup of soup or a fresh-baked cookie. We nurtured each other and supported one another. Just like a tribe does.

Now... going back to the "real world".... it feels like the cold side of the bed. Empty, lonely... and I can't help but wonder if it was all a dream.

You might not understand what I'm trying to say, so let me tell you a story.

Sunday morning, I was sitting on the patio with some of the friends still gathered. Bottles, cups and soda cans still littered the area and bees had started to come in search of nectar. We tried in various ways to keep them away, but ultimately, you can't stop the stubborn little insects. (They're busy supporting their hive and don't really care what you need to get done.) Anyway, I looked over to the table and saw a bee slowly climbing out of someone's left over drink. For some unknown reason, there was a spoon in the drink and the bee was using it like a lifeline. She crawled up the spoon to the rim of the cup and I noticed that one of her wings looked broken. I put my finger on the edge of the cup and she climbed up onto me, one cold little foot at a time.

For ten minutes, I held a bee in the palm of my hand and watched as she cleaned herself, using her long tongue to lick away the drink. She was content to sit there and soak up some of my body heat, to accept that my hand was a safe place for her to collect herself. Gradually, she dried off and that lame wing unfolded from her little hairy body. She danced on my wrist for a bit, batting her wings without achieving lift-off until finally she flew away...back to her hive to tell the others about the house with lots of nectar...just stay away from the red cups.

Our "hive" is our tribe. Our tribe is Ohana. Ohana means family. Family is your safe place to fall, a place to be ugly and flawed without remorse or judgment. Sometimes, you fall apart. It happens. And when it does, everyone deserves a safe place where they can clean off the muck, dry off the tears and put yourself back together until you're ready to fly again.

Why do we just do that on weekends or when disaster hits?