If you live in the southeastern United States, Louisiana or Texas, you are probably most familiar with Love Bugs. And whether you believe that the existence of these insects resulted from a genetics experiment gone wrong or that their arrival here is simply due to migration, one thing is clear: they have a reputation for being a public nuisance.
I was outside on Saturday, taking a long deserved reprieve from what was an unusually busy week. Eyes closed and a drink within reach, relaxing in my lounge chair under the rays of the island sun, I suddenly sensed a shadow to my left. As I opened my eyes, I was awakened to hundreds of coupled Love Bugs sailing over the patio (and me)! Like black stars against the sunlight, they flickered above me; I hadn’t experienced anything like this since the dragon fly migration over the Atlantic off the Jersey Shore over a decade ago.
At first I was startled. It’s my understanding that Love Bugs don’t sting or bite yet to be surrounded by hundreds of them was somewhat unnerving. Shortly thereafter, I became annoyed. I mean, these bugs were everywhere – around me – on me – bumping into me — and yes, floating in my drink! I began pushing them away…blowing them away…even swatting them away, like a game of ping pong – my hand to each coupled entity that got too close.
I thought about concluding my brief outdoor digital detox but decided to hang in there a little bit longer. I was curious. What if I could take what was an annoying situation and transform it into something different? So instead of brushing and flicking each pair of little black bodies from my hair, arms and legs, I tried to see the Love Bug’s flight as a gift. This was not easy; it took everything I could muster! Yet after a period of time, I actually began to see beauty in the experience.
These insects don’t buzz around you like mosquitos or flies. What I realized is that they are actually quite quiet and graceful — black specks in the sky – wafting – floating – dancing, really – above and all around me. The insects were constantly joined together – even in flight – very seldom separating only to immediately rejoin. And they seemed to be drawn to lighter colors or to things on which the sunlight was reflected. Isn’t this similar to many of us who tend to be drawn to things that are lighter and brighter?
So in the end, I was able to shift the experience from one of wonder over annoyance. And what I have realized in hindsight is that Saturday’s experience was a great practice in mindfulness – being present to the moment, creating an opportunity to expand my thoughts from what was initially an infestation to a blessing.