Sitting outside on bench between the dorms and the field, I noticed an endless procession of bees exiting and entering a line of holes that had been drilled into the wooden siding of the roof. Apparently, the men’s dorm that I was assigned to doubled as a hive for bumble bees.
At any given moment during the day there could be 10-20 bees hovering, flying or tackling one another as they made for their nest entrance just above our heads. I absently thought how pointless this all was. Here they are, fighting over which entrance they were going to take into the hive but they only live for about a year. If I was going to die after one year I think I be a little less concern about whether my boss thought I was using the right door.
The habit of the bees weren’t the only thing I took notice of. After the first 2 or 3 days I somehow learned the patterns and quirks of many of my dorm mates. One of the older guys went to the bathroom twice an hour and never washed his hands. It became clear that it didn’t matter what number he used the toilet for, he’d make straight for the door apparently without even considering soap and water. Another guy woke up at midnight every night, on the dot, and shouted incomprehensible phrases into the darkness.
Then there was the 19 year old who turned the fan on in the cool of the night and kept turning it on whenever anyone else in the room turned it off. Another guy sneezed often and it sounded sort of like how you’d imagine badgers to sound when they mate. The bonus was that he’d occasionally cover his mouth. Did I mention that I’m kind of a germaphobe?
It wasn’t until day 4 that I realized that I nitpicked all of these little perceived personality flaws in others because I simply couldn’t tolerate being alone with my self.
As I became aware of my constant critical analysis of each and every person and thing around me, I also became aware of just how miserable I really was. It was like a dam broke and my sense of self was drowning in the deep recognition of my real, deeply flawed personality. The power of simply observing my breath had overflowed into greater awareness of the thought pattern of my mind. I didn’t like what I saw. The bomb was dropped and my world was shattered. Literally.
I looked into the metaphysical mirror I came to the realization that I didn’t really like myself. Not even a little bit. This is when my serious internal work started.