ESSAYS | Epiphanies From a Beekeeper

Uncertainty

If there is one thing I have learned from the honeybees, it’s that you really don’t know what the future holds. When I opened the hive box on a warm January day I was expecting to find a dead colony, the bees either frozen or starved. My mortal expectations came from experience. I’ve seen these sensitive insects collapse from floods, famine, fall prey to bears, be robbed by wasps and lose their minds to pesticide poisoning. For good reason, I braced myself for the worst and started taking off the top bars.

Oh the pure beauty of life. Life when you least expect it. The golden girls were moving, working, cleaning. There was even signs of future life, brood, being warmed and guarded by the nursery bees.

So is the lesson from the bees that when you expect to fail you shall succeed? That when you do everything you can you will collapse, crack and crumble? Wouldn’t it be nice if there were such neat rules in life. No, those are not the lessons from the bees. The lesson here is expect the unexpected. Learn to cope, or better yet, thrive, in a life that is full of uncertainty. I read a quote that I cannot find at the moment that said something like this,

“Your capacity for happiness is directly correlated to your ability to withstand uncertainty.”

Now the question begs, how do I bolster my ability to be in the unknown? To be in transition? To be not quite who I want to be? There are probably many things that help like surrounding yourself with good people, going to talk therapy, asking for help when you need it, winning the lottery, etc. But to actually be in it? In the muck of uncertainty? You have probably guessed what my answer is based off of most of the photos on this website. Yoga. The practice of being exactly where you are in this moment; all the pleasure and all the pain, at once. Uncertainty mixed with moments of feeling completely yourself amidst the chaotic whirring of the world around you. I think Steinbeck knew a thing or two about yoga, he wrote this:

Dedication for East of Eden

Dear Pat,

You came upon me carving some kind of little figure out of wood and you said, “Why don’t you make something for me?”

I asked you what you wanted, and you said, “A box.”

“What for?”

“To put things in.”

“What kind of things?”

“Whatever you have,” you said.

Well, here’s your box. Nearly everything I have is in it, and it is not full. Pain and excitement are in it, and feeling good or bad and evil thoughts and good thoughts- the pleasure of design and some despair and the indescribable joy of creation.

And on top of these are all the gratitude and love I have for you.

And still the box is not full.

JOHN

Yoga is the practice of diving into the metaphorical box that carries everything you are and everything the world will ever be. It’s sorting through each item, some that inspire you and some that repulse you. Some days, all you will see in this box is a source of boredom and you think, “I am done with this box.” But you still go back to the box every day. And you look inside because you never really know what you are going to find.

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I don’t typically go this deep when I am teaching yoga asana. I like to think that these reflections, metaphors and lessons are within every class that I teach because the class came out of my mind and the seeds of that sequence of postures was sitting in my mind steeping with all of these thoughts, right? Wishful thinking I am sure. But I do want you to know, that beneath or perhaps parallel to all the alignment cues and reminders to breath there is something deep within the yoga practice that catalyzes you to see more, feel more, know more and find more. Of course, it is all already there - but yoga peels back the cloak of invisibility just enough that you will keep coming back to it. You will build endurance for sitting in uncertainty, perhaps with more grace and compassion then you had yesterday or the day before.

I hope your box is still not full. Love,

Caitlin Rose