How Something Small Made A Big Impact

Insight From A Brief Encounter With A Bumblebee

2020-11-30 | Dr. Barbara Bailey, Founder, Collaborative Crime Solutions

I have a unique way of connecting with the world around me through noticing and interpreting things that I see. The small things in life often send me down a rabbit hole of greater reflection. This happened over Memorial Day weekend in 2019.  We went up to our land, surrounded by many open acres, for some private camping and exploring. I was out taking a walk when I heard a loud buzzing noise coming at me.  I was thinking, “what the heck is that?!” Suddenly a large bumblebee appeared and began to circle and swirl around my body before and landing on a flower near my feet. 

At this time of year and at the altitude, there were not many flowers out yet. What a gift to witness this! I quietly sat down next to the bee, simply observing. The bee then flew off the flower and landed on my shoe, where she stayed for several minutes before crawling up my leg, eventually making it all the way to my wrist. I just let her be, taking in her beauty, having never seen a bumblebee so close and for so long. My understanding is that bumblebees, unlike honeybees, often avoid humans. I was in awe and wanted to document the moment.

I desperately wanted to get a picture, but I had left my phone at the camper, so I got up and walked back to it. The bee stayed put, never moving from her spot on my wrist.  I collected my phone and headed back to the spot where we had met. I sat back down to take a picture, but to my dismay, every time I would snap a picture my phone would restart! To make matters worse, I could barely see the screen in the daylight, so I wasn’t sure what was happening!  I found myself becoming quite frustrated by not being able to take a picture of this sweet creature rather than staying present and enjoying the encounter. 

 I remember thinking, “just stop, enjoy the moment and forget technology”, after all, that’s why we were camping, to get a break from it. But I was obsessed with getting a picture of it. For reasons beyond my understanding, she hung out on my wrist for at least ten minutes, before flying off. I can only imagine she tired of my obsession with the documentation of the moment rather than being in the moment.

I became angry with myself once she flew away. I had been so consumed with getting a picture that I had missed being “present” in the moment. I had tried to ‘bargain”, by thinking, “just let me get a picture and then I will listen to the message”, (yes, I believed she had a message for me, all things have deeper meaning, but it’s up to us to see how it relates to us personally) but the camera would not cooperate. Later I learned that I did not have enough battery life. This did not make any sense to me because when I had left for the hike, just an hour earlier, I was at about 50%. 

Despite not being able to capture the moment with a photograph, I have taken the time to reflect on the experience. My mind has been occupied with writing a book for criminal justice professionals.  I often get insight on what to include in it. Only the insight comes in bits and pieces and at the least opportunistic times, such as when I am showering or walking, not when I am at my desk! However, deep down I know I have all the information I need. 

The symbolism of the bee includes many things, such as:

  • Achieving the impossible (after all, they don’t look like they can fly and yet they do!),
  • connecting with others,
  • being purposeful, and
  • taking the time to stop and smell the flowers.

When reflecting on these attributes, I now have greater insight into the message I needed to receive. 

In terms of achieving the impossible, writing a book and putting yourself out there for all to see is intimidating. Perhaps fear of failure or ridicule plays a role. Yet Bee reminds us to just go for it. It is now time for my book. We are in the process of a shift, where more people will be open to “different” ways of living and doing. Two articles caught my attention today, one involved France banning all five pesticides that kill bees. Interestingly, the article was written in August 2018, but it was on my social media feed today. Another article pertained to the most recent civil litigation involving Monsanto and Bayer and their cancer-causing product Round-up (also responsible for the death of bees). For too long certain corporations have been allowed to wreak havoc and destroy lives, but now the truth has come to light for those who are finally waking up.

I have worked remotely for 11 years, safely tucked behind my computer at home. Although I love my career and I am aware that we are all connected on a deeper level, I miss the physical connection to others. However, there is also a deeper message here, in that we are all connected. If we lose the bees, humans won’t be here long after. It is a reminder to respect all life and that all serve a purpose. 

Being purposeful speaks deeply to me. I have a continuous playback in my head of what I was thinking at the time of our encounter “just let me get a picture and then I can hear your message.” This is a common theme in my life… let me take this course or read this book and THEN I will write my own book. Can you relate to this way of thinking? Bees gather and pollinate. I have been “gathering” information for years. It is now time to “pollinate” by spreading my ideas and insight. The bee waited for only so long before flying away, it is time to take action or risk losing the moment. What are excuses do you use to hold yourself back?

Taking the time to smell the flowers reminds me of my dog Lily. She was a big bulldog, but on every walk we took, she stopped to smell the flowers. She has been gone many years now, but I learned this lesson from her long ago and it has stayed with me. Life passes by too quickly to live a burdensome existence. I am grateful for the reminder.

Although my encounter lasted only a short time, she continues to dance in my thoughts, providing an opportunity for introspection. In time, I am sure more will come to light for me. My overall life mission is to “use my passion and expertise in the fields of criminal justice and personal development to make a significant difference in the lives of others by opening them to new ideas and approaches to “criminal justice.”  I appreciated the little nudge to move forward, stay focused, and to live with purpose, by becoming fully engaged in the process of creation, whether it involves writing courses, books or other activities that fulfill my life's mission and bring me joy.  

For those reading this article, I ask you, “are you living with purpose and taking the time to notice the little things in life?”  Often those little things can offer the greatest pleasure and insight. Although I could not provide a picture of that beautiful bumblebee, please enjoy the view of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains from where this all took place. In hindsight, I am sure I would not have reflected on the moment as I have, had I been able to take the picture. 

Since the initial writing of this article, I have since started Collaborative Crime Solutions. If you are a public service professional, I can help you maximize your leadership potential and create healthy and mutually supportive relationships to solve your community’s biggest challenges. I utilize my formal education, training, and the principles of connection, collaboration, partnerships, intuition, and empathy. If you are a public service professional who is feeling overwhelmed and stressed, I can provide you with tools to bring you back into balance and remembrance of why you entered the field.

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