So the big thing this summer is that the 17-year cycle cicadas are hatching. They’re big, red, noisy bastards, and a type of bug I’ve always disliked. I’ve never been big on bugs, and having insects that large that fling themselves at you unpredictable while making an awful buzzing sound is a sure-fire way to get me to emit high pitched screams and have me rapidly exit.
Well, they started hatching early this year, and it wasn’t long before I encountered them at Heartland. The first morning, one was molting on one of my camp boxes, and it went downhill from there. By the end of the festival, there were tents under tree with literally dozens of cicadas trying to dry out their newly minted wings.
See, I have this thing about bugs. I’m not exactly phobic, but I really dislike them. I’m terrified of stinging insects, and anything that I can mistake for one makes me nervous. And the bigger they are the less I like them. Anything that buzzes makes me twitch and squirm.
But if I they’re calm, and I can view them safely (say, from behind glass), then they kind of intrigue me. They’re interesting. They’re tiny and complicated, and evolved to navigate a world of smaller hazards. We still don’t know how they see with those complicated eyes. And they exists in a world of intensely strong smells and chemical warfare. (And bees can do complex mathematical calculations and estimates, and communicate them to each other.)
Yes, there’s metaphors and lessons and things in this.
So here I am at an event that I consider both a religious and vacationing experience, at a location I regard as sacred. It is a space I feel comfortable and safe in, where I can let my shields down in a way I can’t in the “real” world. And I’m surrounded by thousands of noisy bugs that I not only dislike, but usually have a fear response to.
I had two ways to respond. I could have freaked out and stayed in my tent, or I could get used to them and not worry.
I’m not sure if it was because the critters were still molty and wet and vulnerable, or if it was because they weren’t noisy yet, or because of the environment, but I kind of started to not mind them. I didn’t want any in my tent, and I steered clear of them, but I didn’t freak out or anything. I was cautious, but not nervous or scared. I wasn’t picking any up or playing with them, but who knows, maybe in time.
Things that come at me unexpectedly frighten me. Things I don’t understand frighten me. Things that I can’t control frighten me. This goes for bugs, magick, or love. But when I was able to be at peace in a safe space, I could encounter what made me uncomfortable on my terms, and be at peace with it.
I think I’m really starting to understand the importance of safe spaces and holding space in a way that I hadn’t before, and I’m hoping this can help me better deal with my Empathy and my fears of loss and rejection.