When I'm writing on deadline, anything can become a distraction. Today it was a fly. Not just your average fly, but a fly about the size of a pick-up truck..okay, the size of a smoked almond..okay, the size of a peanut. Suffice to say, he was a larger-than-average housefly. And he was a buzzy fly. You know the type. Some flies are rather stealth. Then there are the large, greenish dudes who exist just to make noise. The fly buzzing loudly against the casement windows in my office was of the latter breed, and if I were casting the remake of the horror movie with Jeff Goldbloom, he would have gotten the title role of the scientist, post-transformative experiment gone wrong.
"Really?" I said to the fly. "You're going to do that buzzing thing in here? I have a big ol' house you could terrorize and lots of great windows to throw yourself against, but you have to come in the one room occupied by a human and bug the living crap out of me while I'm working?"
"Buzzz, buzzz," he replied.
"Why don't you go buzz the cat?" I said. "She has nothing better to do."
"Buzzz, buzzz, buzzz," replied the fly.
Good point, I thought. The cat's not Buddhist. Apparently the fly has been talking to the cockroaches and word's out that the smelly incense I burn in front of the statues of happy Asian men means I don't smash insects on sight. Okay fly, time for some Buddhist practice.
I've never tried to catch a fly before, but I went to the bathroom and retrieved a thick white hand towel. And it was amazingly easy. I just waited until he stopped flying around and landed on the window, and I covered him gently with the towel cupped in my hand. Trying to get away, he flew into the towel. When I heard him buzzing his muted, pissed-off buzzy sound, I pulled the towel slowly from the window, folding the towel over the places where he might escape. Then I walked quickly to a window I could easily open (with one hand,) held the towel fully outside of it, and gave it a good shake. I didn't exactly see him blow me a kiss as he flew away, but there were no fly guts on the towel when I was done, so my practice was successful. It took all of three minutes. Amazing.
I sat back down to write. After a while, I heard another buzzing sound, but this time it was not a big, fat green fly. It was a Bee, to be specific, it was a Should Bee. And it wasn't clattering around against a window. That's not where Should Bees are found. No, Should Bees throw themselves against the nice smooth, surfaces of your mind and try to annoy you into swatting them. Never heard of a Should Bee? As in "I Should Bee working right now, but I'm checking Facebook," (that one's rather benign). How about "I Should Bee more successful by this time in my life," or "At my age, I Should Bee happily married and edging towards a comfy retirement," or "I Should Bee a better wife, mother, friend, sister, daughter, person..."? Those are the Killer Bees and they will distract you from many a good purpose or intention, if you let them. You can spend the better part of your life swatting away the Should Bees, and they will keep coming back. And unlike the annoying buzzing fly, if you get too close to them, Should Bees will sting you in the ass every time.
But today, when a Should Bee landed on my nose, and start buzzing about how I "Should Be Working at a Real Job with Benefits," I didn't reflexively try to slap it into oblivion. Of course, it started making noise so I would pay it more attention. I flicked it into the corner. Should Bees don't like to be flicked and it came back with a vengeance.
"How do you think you're gonna pay the mortgage for this swanky new house on a freelancer's pay? I've seen your A/R statement, you know," said the Should Bee.
"I've done this for years," I said. "I work hard, I'm a good writer and my clients love me."
"Well, you Should Bee saving more, you know. What if something happens and you can't type? What if you break a hand or something? You can't just call in sick when you freelance."
"I have savings. I have an emergency fund. I have a financial advisor. Go away!"
The Should Bee was quiet for a moment.
"But you've never done this all on your own before," it whispered sotta voce. "You're divorced now. You're all alone!"
The Should Bee's sting found purchase in a very tender spot. Ouch! Fortunately, there was another sound, that familiar "ding!" of an email landing in my in-box. It was a meeting request from a client who wanted to discuss the project we were working on. I hit accept.
The Should Bee was quiet, although I could still hear her flitting around against the well-worn grooves created by worry in my mind. And then I realized the secret of exterminating the Should Bees: They were all about the future and therefore they did not have any basis in reality. Should Bees are the product of limited perception, and as such, are flawed. As long as I stay in the present, they can't hurt me, because where I Should Bee is not as important as where I am Right Now. If I'm going to believe a perception, why not choose the one that says, "You are doing exactly what you should be doing in this moment"? It might take a little more faith to live in the moment, but faith is the ultimate Should Bee swatter.
Without another thought of the Should Bee, I returned to my work. As I opened a new window on my computer and began writing my next assignment, I gently shooed the Should Bee out of my head and away from my Present. She might come back, but as long as I have faith that my life is as exactly as it should be, I'll never be stung again.