Writing Prompts

Word Prompt: Lower | Story Prompt: from the book “Option B” by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant

‘I had been trying to keep a journal since childhood. Every couple of years I would start a new one, only to give up just a few days later. But over the five months following Dave’s funeral, 106,338 words poured out of me. I felt like I couldn’t breathe until I wrote everything down — from the smallest detail of my morning to the unanswerable questions of existence. If I went even a few days without journaling, the emotions would build up inside me until I felt like a dam about to burst. At the time, I didn’t understand why writing on an inanimate computer was so important. Shouldn’t I be talking to my family and friends, who could actually respond? Wouldn’t it be better to try to distance myself from the anger and grief rather than use the limited time I had alone each day to dredge it all up?

Now it’s clear that my compulsion to write was guiding me in the right direction. Journaling helped me process my overwhelming feelings and my all-too-many regrets. I thought constantly about how if I’d known that Dave and I had only eleven years, I would’ve made sure we spent more time together. I wished that in the hard moments in our marriage, we had fought less and understood each other more. I wished that on what turned out to be our last anniversary, I had stayed home rather than flying with my kids to attend a bar mitzvah. And I wished that when we went for a hike that final morning in Mexico, I’d walked by Dave’s side and held his hand, instead of walking with Marne while he walked with Phil. As I wrote out these moments, my anger and regret began to lessen.

Philosopher Soren Kierkegaard said that life can only be understood backward but it must be lived forward. Journaling helped me make sense of the past and rebuild my self-confidence to navigate the present and future.’


Bee Questions (MEC 15-July-2023)

Bees buzz past me, focused on their work. As they clamber over flower petals, dusting up the pollen, I watch as the hairs on their legs fill like saddlebags. Bright orange from some flowers, brighter yellow from others. Pollens in blues and greens as well, sometimes, depending on the plant and the time of year.

How far from from her hive is this bee? Does she even keep track?

“I’m a twenty minute flight away, depending on the wind. The pollen is currently at 80% of my carrying capacity. Should I go and gather more? Or head back to the hive? Does anyone there miss me? It may rain this afternoon, should I fly closer to the hive now in case it begins to rain? Do I attempt a return, or do I find a place here to shelter? What if it gets really windy, then what?”

Do bees try to be consistent with their collecting? “I’ve collected exclusively goldenrod so far – should I carry on searching for more of that or is it okay if I mix it up with daisy or clover?”

Returning to the hive, waggle dancing and doing it all again, bringing helpers. Does the dance warn of highways or roadways? Of vast, open expanses of water? Are they bored? Or do they buzz in delight at each new flower?

What of the bees whose hives are loaded onto the beds of pickup trucks and are brought into the centers of planted crops for specific crop pollination – what of these? Do they pause and blink slowly at the threshold of the hive once it’s opened in a new location and wonder at the place they’ve found themselves in (a flax field today, yesterday was corn) before flying out into the field? Do they stop at the nearest flower and complete that first plant, methodically dusting up all the pollen before moving on to the next closest flower, and so on? Or do they fly about, willy-nilly, with no plan or thought? Or are they more like my granddaughters at a new playground, and make a bee-line to the swings, their usual favorite?

How do they know when they are finished with a particular flower or plant? Do they tire of it? Do they eat any of the pollen they collect? Do they snack along the way or do they wait until they return to the hive to nourish themselves? Will they fill their tiny fuzzy tummies first, before collecting more on their hairy saddlebag legs?

When on goldenrod for example, does each goldenrod plant taste the same or can they discern a difference? If there is a difference, what is that based on? The composition of the soil? The proximity to other plants? The time of the last rain? The number of flowers or leaves?

There’s just so much I don’t know about bees.

Thoughts? Feel free to share them here.

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