Herman Melville was always using the image of the artist as diver. He loved that word. Having to dive from some height, meaning, of course, taking a serious risk. Because if you dive and you're lucky, you'll come up with gold from the bottom of yourself. You dive deep into the self. But you can also drown, you can smash your head upon the rocks — there are terrible risks in diving from a great height. But if you didn't dive, then you were not an artist in his terms. Without risk you were just a middle-of-the-road type guy.
~ Maurice Sendak from Writers Dreaming by Naomi Epel
I'm afraid of heights and sometimes I'm afraid to dive deep into myself. However, I never want to be a middle-of-the-road type guy.
Inviting all my creative friends to join me in taking the plunge today and every day.
There I was in my bra, surrounded by strangers, while a man hit me repeatedly in the head with his hat…
I drove my brother’s pickup to the Rooney Valley Recycling Center to unload the juniper branches and sod I’d removed from my yard. I paid $10 at the gate and the woman told me I needed to separate the materials so she directed me to the very back of the area where there was a huge mound of sod. Right across from it was the enormous pile of branches. She thought it’d be most convenient for me to unload both back there.
I drove past one other truck on my way to the sod mound, weaving around materials piled so high you can’t see anyone or anything else. I parked the truck next to the mound and started grabbing sod and flinging it into the pile. It was a nice morning, not too warm, not too windy. Not bad at all, I thought as I flung a huge piece of sod.
Suddenly an annoying fly was buzzing around my head. Quite aggressively. I told the damned fly to shoo, but then there was another. And another.
Except they weren’t damned flies. They were damned bees. A swarm of them. All around me but especially around my head.
In my hair.
I took off my ball cap and waved it around my head. Frantically. As I screamed.
The bees kept buzzing. My whole head vibrated.
I tried to be calm, to stand still so they’d leave me alone.
They were too pissed. I felt a sting.
So I screamed some more And ran a bit toward the entrance.
The woman from the other truck saw me and yelled, “Run, honey! Run!”
I ran past her and the man with her said for me to run to the shack at the gate. (Not clear on why I’d want to bring bees to the woman in the shack, but at least it was a plan!)
But before I got there, the woman screamed for me to take off my shirt because bees were flying out of it.
The woman from the shack came out while the other woman helped me unbutton my shirt. She shook it out while the man yelled for me to stand still.
Then he hit me in the head with his hat, over and over. Really hard.
I was so grateful.
He knocked all but two bees off my head. I got the second-to-the-last one and the woman brushed off the last.
I was bee-free but full of adrenaline.
And there was my brother’s truck, keys in the ignition, way back there surrounded by an angry swarm of bees.
The man and woman drove me back there in their truck. We watched while bees swarmed near the truck and around the stump that probably held their nest.
The one I’d inadvertently hit with a huge piece of sod.
We strategized. I walked slowly to the truck, got in the passenger side and slammed the door. The man slowly walked to the back of my truck, grabbed the broom and rake leaning there, and threw them in my truck before getting back in his own.
I unloaded the rest of my materials in stump-free areas and was remarkably calm the entire time, if I do say so myself.
On the drive home, though, a fly buzzed in the truck cab and I panicked. And screamed.
I’ve got a ways to go before letting go of the bee panic. But I’d be much worse off without Good Samaritans, Phyllis and Jeff, there to help me.
Next time I go to the drop-off, I think I’ll wear one of these: