I regularly mention that the balcony on our apartment is my sanctuary. I love to sit out here and write, think, or meditate. It faces to the west, so I even on hot days I am protected by shade until mid-afternoon. The enjoyment I get from sitting out here is hard to put a price tag on.
Amanda will occasionally join me out here. Or if they are visiting, Shaun or one of the grandchildren will venture out with me in the morning while I write. They have come to accept that this is my “quiet time.” They respect my need to quietly reflect on life and write.
A few spiders show up, and so long as they are the harmless variety, I let them be. It’s even fun to watch them on their intricate webs early in the morning before sunrise. At that time of day they are finishing their work, ready to retreat into whatever small crevice they have chosen to avoid direct sunlight and predators.
Another guest is not so welcome. Wasps try to nest in my sanctuary, but I give them no sanctuary here. I have two very distinct memories of being stung by wasps, and I have no intention of setting myself up for a third.
The first time, I was playing softball. Unbeknownst to me, a wasp had taken up residence in my ball glove. When I slid the glove on my hand, the startled creature began stinging. My hand tensed, making it impossible for me to shake the glove and wasp off my hand. The burning sensation was, to say the least, unpleasant!
The second time I was on my bicycle. I hit a wasp as I glided down a country road in Southwest Missouri. Once again, I had startled one of these monsters, and like Godzilla in Tokyo, the wasp ravaged my arm.
My long-standing solution to controlling wasps is Wasp, Bee, and Hornet Spray. You know, the kind that shoots a steady stream of chemicals, knocking the little buggers right out. Or at least that’s what I thought.
You see, I thought all such sprays were created equally. So, a few weeks ago, I invested in a fresh can for the new season. Wasps were particularly active at that time. As they searched for new homes, it seemed that an inordinate number of them were trying to use our balcony as a nesting site.
Maybe they like the aroma of my morning coffee and thought I would share?
Whatever the reason, as they began showing up, I grabbed my trusty can of spray and shot.
Direct hit. That’s when I discovered that all Wasp, Bee, and Hornet sprays are not created equal. My foam covered pray was still clinging to the ceiling of the balcony. He began shaking violently, ridding himself of the foam. Then, the little monster began flying.
This happened a few more times before I checked the label of the can. The words “kills by contact” told the story. I had expected the words to say “kills on contact.” Substituting one little two letter word for another had made all the difference in the world.
In this instance, the difference was between a dead wasp and one that was thoroughly pissed off! I continued to stand my ground that day. Despite being armed with the wrong spray, I was determined to fight back. In the end, after using almost the entire can of insecticide, the battle ended. The wasps stopped trying to nest in my sanctuary.
Sitting by my side today is a new can of Wasp, Bee, and Hornet spray. I looked very carefully when selecting it. It was a couple dollars more than my previous can, but the investment was completely justified. This can says “Kills on contact.”
This story illustrates more than just my loathing of wasps. It’s a reminder that words mean things. The twelve steps of Narcotics Anonymous have been written very carefully. Through the use of concise and easy to understand words, the steps have earned the trust of countless addicts seeking recovery.
The same holds true for our literature. It has been written, and then revised, both to keep it relevant and to assure that the message is clear.
Despite the clarity of the NA message, and our literature, there are still times that I, as a typical addict, want to bend the meaning of words to fit my goals. When the meaning of a word is too obvious, I am prone to declare that a particular principle or suggestion doesn’t apply to me.
I’ll attempt to twist a phrase just enough to fit my desires. Then, like pissing off wasps with weak bug spray, I expend all my energy in a hopeless battle with myself.
At such times I need to go back and re-read a section or phrase. I learned the true value of this practice only recently as a brother shared about the spiritual awakening I could find in reading our literature. “Don’t read it like a textbook,” he said. “Read it with an open heart that allows it to speak to your soul.”
Learning to approach NA literature that way has deepened my trust in its message. It has been like the difference found in the words “by” and “on” when using my Wasp, Bee, and Hornet spray. I no longer fight it. I learn to apply the principles in my life as they are intended. No more battling life’s challenges with inadequate or watered down principles.
My journey continues. I’m smart enough to know that I will never get this thing we call recovery down to a perfect science. I will have to continue to practice these principles in all my affairs, and to the best of my understanding and ability. To do so, I will apply trust. Like the “kills on contact” can, I know this stuff works. I trust it to work in my life today.
Have a remarkable day!