Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Please humor me, my friend, when I ask you to propel yourself into the future to your 70th birthday.

Now imagine taking your entire adult life up to this point - on average, 50 years - to complete only 1/10 of a simple crossword puzzle. And then imagine yourself taking that same entire adult life to complete only one of your Top Ten life goals that you set when you were a teenager. And finally, imagine visiting only 1/10 of all those places you wanted to see when you were young, reading only 1/10 of all the books you wanted to peruse and writing only 1/10 of all the emails and letters you should have written over the years.

Hypothetically knowing this is where you will be at your 70th birthday, would you try any harder in the coming years? Try less?

It has been estimated that humans use between 6 and 10 per cent of their brain's ability. The question that I always raise when I hear this estimation is "Does anyone know what 100% of brain ability looks and acts like?" Most days I wake up hoping to and trying to use close to that arbitrarily defined 100%. Did I come close at all on any day? I guess I'll never know...

But consider this: A worker bee produces only 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime.

Yes, you read that correctly. Only 1/12 of a TEAspoon of honey over its ENTIRE lifetime. Day in and day out, this particular worker bee is toiling away, doing what it was purposed to do. Granted, an average worker bee only lives between 28 and 35 days, but even during this time period, 1/12 of a teaspoon doesn't seem like much. So perhaps it's a good thing for all those persons loving honey that a colony of bees contains an average of 50,000 - 60,000 worker bees.

It just may be a fact of human nature as well: We are each simply called to do our very best with the gifts and abilities we have for as long as we are alive. What we gather or accomplish over that short or long lifetime may not personally amount to much - maybe only 10 to 12% of what we set out to accomplish. And that, my friend, is okay. No single jar of honey is ever completed by one single bee and no single life is ever completed by one single soul - there are thousands and thousands (dare I say, a limitless amount) of souls intersecting with our life and cumulatively bringing about and continuing Life. Perhaps the adage is very true and can even be modified: "It takes a village, and its surrounding world, to raise a child."

My friend, you might look back on your life and see a journey traveled through the same occupation, the same neighborhood and even the same clothes. And begin to feel that the 1/12 of your life is shrinking. But don't dismay. It took four single lives, with extensive journeys, to intersect and create you and your significant other. Then it took thousands of more lives to intersect with you and your significant other's life over the years; directing them, guiding them, shaping them, maneuvering them toward each other. And if you two have children, there will be thousands of more lives intersecting with each of your children - further directing, guiding, shaping and maneuvering...

Try to imagine the millions of circumstances and events and decisions, combined with the tens of thousands of individual interactions with thousands of individuals, that have had to occur so that at this moment you could share your 12% with the world. Still doesn't seem like much? Your 12%, combined with the 12% of thousands and millions of others' lives, begins to have real substance. The sweet substance we call Life.

So, for a moment, forget to worry about the length of your life. Concentrate on that 12% that only you can share with the world around you - and then share it. At the same time, humble yourself to remember that it takes more than one bee to fill a hive. It's in this truth that the very sweetness of Life is at its richest.


POST NOTE: While we're on the subject of bees, did you know: Bees have been producing honey as they do today for at least 100 million years (since the Cretaceous period)*. Bees produce honey as food stores for the hive during the long months of winter when flowers aren't blooming and therefore little or no nectar is available to them. European honey bees, genus Apis Mellifera, produce such an abundance of honey, far more than the hive can eat, that humans can harvest the excess. For this reason, European honey bees can be found in beekeeper's hives around the world (The World History of Beekeeping and Honey Hunting, by Eva Crane, Routledge, 1999, p. 7).