Sunday, August 30, 2009

Fear Stings

“Love is what we were born with. Fear is what we learned here.” ~ Author unknown

My daughter and I have been watching a colony of Polistes wasps – commonly known as ‘Paper Wasps’ – build their nest on our porch throughout the summer. The “construction project” started several weeks ago, when the founding queen came along and picked an upper corner to settle her domain. Within a few days from her appearance, the first chamber was built, then a few more, until the finished job looked like an upside-down umbrella, with only a few rooms insulated by a paper-like substance and most left open.

Since paper wasps are rarely aggressive and are natural enemies of many garden pests, we left them alone and they never bothered with us, even when we were at very close distance. The whole symbiotic process worked great until a friend of my son – terrified of bees and wasps alike – came over this weekend and went out to sit on the porch. Unbeknownst to me, he must have seen one or the workers fly around looking for insects, got scared, and used a wooden staff I keep by the door to knock the nest down, hoping to drive the wasps away.

When I walked outside later, I saw the nest on the ground and a group of workers still in the spot where the nest originally was, so I picked it up and looked at it – babies were still nestled in the chambers and moving. The moment I picked it up, a few workers began to fly around, but my attention was not on them; in that moment I was focused on finding a way to save the babies.

I finally found a spot slightly elevated and protected from the elements and set the nest there; all along, the workers continued to fly around a few inches away. As soon as I moved away they went back to the nest and resumed their routines.

When I related the incident to my husband, he was stunned that the wasps had allowed me to pick up their nest full of babies and had kept away instead than stinging me, but I didn’t think it was all that odd. Animals and insects alike can perceive vibrations, and wasps especially are so sensitive to smell that can be trained to detect any chemical, including substances used to produce illegal drugs. When we are afraid, our bodies produce different chemicals than when we are relaxed, thus changing the scent we emanate. As I focused on saving the babies, fear was the last thing on my mind, and the wasps never felt I was a threat. Somehow, in the greater scheme of things, they knew I was trying to help them ensure the continuation of their colony.

By focusing on love we can shift the polarity of our experiences. We might think that anger and hatred are the other face of love, but fear actually is – anger and hatred are secondary emotions that are born from fear. When we choose to look at life through love rather than fear, we dramatically cut our chances of getting hurt, as others don’t perceive us as a threat. On the contrary, when we are fearful – and the vibes we send out are negative ones, since anger and fear are related to each other – others assume we will hurt them and they instantly shift into a defensive mode, ready to attack.

Shifting from fear to love is simpler than we think. Even wasps seem to know that.

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