The sun streamed in through the floor-to-ceiling windows and warmed our backs as we sipped coffee at our favorite cafe – a rare treat in October (the sun, not the coffee). Our son toddled happily around his familiar surroundings and we just sipped, and chatted, and watched and enjoyed. When out of the corner of my eye I saw something moving – sort of twitching – around; so I gave it my full attention.
Just outside the window there was a beautiful flower cut out of wood leaning against the corner of the building. The petals were painted a bright fuchsia, and the center – about the size of a bowling ball – a vibrant yellow. The sun shone bright on its surface and it nearly glowed. A wasp buzzed spasmodically around it; it would land in the center, dance and run around it then take off again to get a better angle. With kamikaze-like precision it would hurtle towards the flower, peck at the core with it’s stinger, feet, head. This carried on for the better part of half an hour until finally it flew away, seemingly in a huff.
I can’t blame the little fella for being drawn to that flower – it was truly breathtaking glistening away in the autumn sunshine. It must have looked like a Utopian last-bastion of summer for that little guy. What got me was how he continued to try to suck some kind of sustenance from it once he was painfully aware it was fake. Was he aware we were watching and therefore trying to save face? Was he going to stick with it because he had committed, and once he commits to something he follows through with it, dadgummit? Did he think maybe if he changed his approach; tweaked the way he went about it he would find the magic button of pollination glory?
As we left the cafe and sauntered back to our car and the continuing to-do’s of everyday life, I couldn’t help but see myself in that poor little wasp.
In what things am I looking to find sustenance, nourishment, life-giving properties only to be pecking at a painted piece of particle board? To what beauties am I drawn by flashy coatings and vibrant color? In what endeavors am I wasting my time based on the empty promise of a first impression? To what tasks, or ideas, or ideals have I committed simply to save the embarrassment and hassle of admitting I was wrong?
The saddest part about the saga of our little friend, the wasp? There was a bush-full of beautiful, vibrant, fragrant flowers just around the corner from the cafe. Flowers full of sweet nectar and pollen just waiting to be taken on board, transported and transformed into something truly amazing – and satisfying.
Instead, he was deceived by the beauty of a coat of paint, ambient lighting, and the promise of something too good to be true; and he missed out on the real thing. And when he finally did admit to himself he’d been seeking his deepest need in the wrong place, he left defeated – and in the complete opposite direction of the real thing.
Oh, friends, I don’t know about you, but I’ve got some pretty big wooden flowers in my life. I’m pecking away in search for something truly fulfilling in a place where’s there’s naught to be found but some dried out promises and painful splinters.
What about you? Where are you looking to find fulfillment? Happiness? Meaning? I invite you to join me and examine your life for the painted flowers and see what lies you’ve believed for too long. Because I know from experience, you can’t get pollen from paint.