Saturday, 12 May 2012


One of the findings of the science of happiness into the habits of happy people, is that caring or compassionate people tend to be happier.

Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism are all based on compassion.  In fact Buddhism teaches loving kindness to all living things.

The Dalai Lama said "if you want to be happy, practice compassion"

Which is why I am proud of a trait of mine that others may call soppy or daft.  It is a trait that had me in tears a few months ago when I accidentally hit a pigeon in the car, and which had me elated with happiness a few moments ago...which I will explain in a minute.

I just don't like hurting other living things. It makes me sad.

You can call me a hypocrite if you like, because I do actually eat meat. I can't rationalise that. Except if I'm forced to try and apply rational thought to something quite emotional I might come up with the fact that the animals I eat are (as far as I know) killed in a humane and pain free way and I generally don't enjoy eating things with more dubious journeys to my plate.

I have to say, I'm actually like it with flowers too.  If I hurt or break a flower or plant by accident that also makes me sad...yet I happily eat fruit and veg to my heart's content. I put that down more to a regretful sense of the transient nature of beauty and life, as opposed to any compassion for the 'feelings' of the flower itself.

Anyway, back to creatures. We have wasps nesting in our roof. They fall out into the house all angry and hungry and on a mission and Alex has a phobia of the things. So sharing a house with them isn't particularly practical. I have actually been stung in my attempts to banish them from the house and remove them from his presence. But sometimes there's just nothing for it but to get rid of them altogether. And by that I mean kill them.  Wasps don't have many redeeming features, but I'm not massively comfortable having to kill them. I'd really rather not.

Especially when they turn out not to be a wasp at all, but a little bee!

and that's what happened earlier today.

Alex was sitting nearest the open window and in flew a buzzy thing and up he leapt. I sprung into action and swiped at it with a magazine. A miraculous first hit, it fell out of the air and onto the sofa. And horror of all horrors it was a poor innocent little bee and not a wasp at all.  I was horrified! They're endangered enough as it is without me randomly killing them.

What followed was probably intensely puzzling for many other people, but deeply important for me.  I will try to cut it short.

I scooped up the patient...incapacitated but not dead...and took him outside, where he flopped about in the manner of something not doing particularly well or having full use of its limbs. I then sat and watched him for I don't know how long. I honestly don't know how long, I was totally absorbed in just wiling the bee to get better. It was panting and heaving and waving its antenna around frantically, but not going anywhere. Some time later a few ants launched an attack and the bee's furry little legs suddenly sprung back into action, kicking and flicking about all over the shop. I found a pine needle acted as a good ant prodder and joined the fight on the side of the bee. Clearly where I had deposited the patient was not at all safe. I offered him said pine needle and he grabbed on so I moved him over to some nice purple geraniums. Where he again did a particularly pathetic impression of a  bee and just sort of hung there limply.  I continued to sit and stare at him...he was probably just terrified of my giant face and wanted me to go away. So I did. Oh, after moving him to a different geranium and trying to shove him inside it, it just looked safer.
 I don't know if he was grateful. He just sat there. Again. Then I went away. I texted my step mum (bee keeper extraordinaire) for any bee resuscitation tips and she said to feed him some water with honey or sugar. So, I got him a little picnic ready and went back out to see how he was doing. He was moving! He had crawled out onto the top of the flower. hurray. I tried to shove the honey and water at him but he just kept lolloping away. Eventually he stuck one little leg on it, then tried to fly off. He landed again about 3cms away. He tried that about 8 times, with me trying to feed him honey in between. Eventually I think he got so fed up of being force fed he just upped and left. He flew off up, higher and higher into the air, without falling back down again, buzzing away merrily, and then he buzzed right off altogether.

HURRAY! the bee lives on. I hope he will be ok now.

I was so happy I ran round the house shouting to Alex about it and had to write a post straight away.

So there we go. My experience of compassion and loving kindness for all living creatures (even wasps) as ingredients in the big melting pot of happiness.

PS obvs I took a few photos of the bee while it was on the recovery ward, would have been (bee-n! ha ha) rude not to really :)

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