AMBIENT THOUGHT – EPISODE One Hundred Sixty Nine: Observe

The following and all of the other episodes to come are snapshots of what goes on in my head, now and in the past. There are times none of this will make sense. There will be times when I might get lucky and the blog I post will be well constructed and will flow like a mountain stream to an awaiting lake below. Other times it will seem like the ramblings of a madman and you’ll ask yourself, “What the……?”
You should probably get used to the latter.


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Strategy requires thought, tactics require observation.
– Max Euwe


This is something I believe we, as a society, do less of.
Oh, sure. We LOOK (blog post-Episode 22) at things (usually our phones).
But do we observe?


Very few do.

You have heard of that old saying about seeing the forest for the trees (the big picture).
And now we seem to have a problem with seeing an individual tree for the forest.
Or an individual limb. Or leaf.

There are times when we have to focus on the particulars.
And a lot of people have forgotten how.
Or never learned.

One afternoon, when I was about ten, I was playing in my backyard. I think I was kicking a ball or throwing a frisbee up into the air to myself or something to that effect. It doesn’t matter. My dad was mowing a couple of dozen feet from me.
Now, there were some tall narrow trees growing in the back yard. I can’t tell you what they were but quite a few grew in my neighborhood at the time. bottle-gourd-64698_1920
In one of those growing in the back yard was a long-necked hollowed-out bottle gourd that my dad had got onto a ladder and hung up. It was to serve as a birds nest. I can’t remember how long it had been hanging there but long enough for birds to have made a home.

As I was standing there, kicking the ball or throwing the frisbee, I started to think about that gourd and wondered if there were birds. As my dad mowed and the noise of the lawnmower filled the summer afternoon air, I decided I wanted to see if the gourd had been inhabited by birds. I dropped my ball or frisbee and walked over to the tree and tried to influence my environment by taking my hand and banged on the trunk of the tree. I did this a couple of times as I looked above me, waiting for birds to come flying out.

There were no birds.

There were only bumblebees.
A swarm of bumblebees.

I could suddenly hear buzzing over the sound of the lawnmower, all around me, as I was zeroed on by the swarm and stung along my shoulders and neck. I swatted at them trying to run. That was then my dad, the hero, came running over and grabbed me. We ran for the gate, bumblebees in pursuit, still finding my flesh with their stingers. My dad flipped the latch and we were through and we ran for the side door into the converted garage. He slammed the screen door as bumblebees kamikazed into it, still trying to attack the culprit that disturbed them.

We stood there, trying to catch our breath as I bawled through the pain that radiated along my shoulders and neck. He took me inside where my mom pulled the stingers from my skin. Over forty times I had been stung.
My father didn’t have one sting.
Those bees knew exactly who they wanted to inflict pain on.

So, what would have kept me from getting stung?
If I had really looked, I would have seen bees flying around the tree. I would have known the sound of the mower was ticking them off and just needed a trigger to come out with stingers blaring.
I didn’t observe the situation and see the tree for the forest.
Or the bumblebee for the potential bird.

Of course, I was a kid and did a kid-like thing. I wasn’t trying to piss off a bunch of pissed-off bumblebees. I just wanted to have a cause-and-effect situation by making some birds take to the air. I meant no harm. Or to be harmed.
But that’s what I got.
By not observing.


I think about that day and how much of an impact it made on me. It taught me to think about what I was doing (or going to do) before I did it. It taught me to look at the whole situation and the possible outcomes of decisions. I’m not saying that I’ve had a few momentary lapses of reason since then (I’m human), I believe I’m much more cautious because of the bumblebees.
And I found out that I’m not allergic to bee stings. If I had been, I would have surely have died that day.

It took me a long time to get over my fear of bees or any flying stinger carrying insect. Even if they couldn’t do me any harm, I ran away from fear.
But, today, I don’t think of them as much of a threat. At one time, I would kill carpenter bees because they would burrow into our wood fence and deck but I can’t bring myself to hurt them. I even try to get as close as they will allow me and study them. And I think a few have tried to study me. And honey bees will never find any harm from me. I absolutely love them.
As for wasps and hornets, those are the ones that should stay clear of me. They suck.
They are vengeful, evil creatures and will sting with no fear of dying.

Bees taught me to observe.
If you just look and don’t observe, you could get stung.
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-Loyd Elmore Jr
February 7th, 2020


I’ve decided to keep a blog about how I’m dealing with depression. I’m going to consider this a form of therapy. It might not help anybody else but it might help me.


4 thoughts on “AMBIENT THOUGHT – EPISODE One Hundred Sixty Nine: Observe

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