Don’t Panic Or You’ll Hurt The Ladybugs


(From *_* on Instagram)

I’ve been told now and again over the years that while I’m extremely skilled at coming up with big ideas – the “Big Idea” in science fiction stories, world-building in fantasy, the grand sweep of generations in historical fiction – I need to remember to keep my feet on the ground too, and write the characters within those big ideas. People might relate to the grand sweeps but you won’t hold them long if they can’t relate to the characters.

I’ve noticed something similar in metaphysical books over the years, but also in myself. I’ve read books that are all about concept but without doing a very good job of bringing forth those concepts in a way that makes them personal. Likewise, I’ve done a lot of contemplation in the last few months in the big concepts presented by Jane Roberts and others, but still need to work on applying them to myself. That I need to figure out a way to keep my feet on the ground while my head is in the clouds.

A few weeks ago I had an interesting if somewhat sad lesson in one way to do this.

On an unseasonably warm and sunny day here in the mountains, I looked outside to see an insect swarm around the big maple tree in my front yard. I immediately went into a near-panic mode. When I bought my house three years ago the exterminator found termites; the following year I wasn’t able to afford the follow-up inspection; and that maple tree had a history of harboring termites. Without thinking I scrambled outside to get a closer look to see if they really were termites, but between how fast they were swarming and their being directly between the sun and me, I couldn’t get a good look at them.

Still without thinking, I started swatting, as if that would do any good. But that’s a panic reaction. Lashing out even when the lashing is useless or might do more harm than good.

And when I lashed out I did manage to knock two of the bugs out of the air, with one landing at my feet and one landing on my shirt, the first dead and the second injured.

And I saw to my horror that they weren’t termites at all, but ladybugs.

I stood there frozen for awhile, feeling ashamed of myself. A little calm and patience would have made the difference. But panic doesn’t like calm and patience. The more you shut down that side of your mind, the more panic can feed.

As I stood there I realized I needed something short, quick, and to the point in a such a situation. Something down to earth, to keep me grounded.

And I thought, Don’t panic or you’ll hurt the ladybugs.

That rang like a bell in my head the instant I thought it. I knew instantly that this would be the reminder I needed to keep from panicking, and in the handful of times since then, when something drastic was been flung at me, it’s the mantra I used: Don’t panic or you’ll hurt the ladybugs. The memory or seeing the one on the ground and then the one clinging to my shirt jars me enough to make me stop, take a breath, and make sure I don’t dive headfirst into doing anything that’s going to come back to hurt me or anyone else because my skull is too knotted up to think straight.

It becomes a kind of instant meditation at need.

So – I’m sorry that I hurt you, ladybugs, but thank you for a lesson in grounding that’s already worked and which I’m not going to forget.


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