Take the detour to play

How do you play?


“If given the opportunity, will bumble bees engage in play?” Researchers from Queen Mary University of London were set on finding out. 


The experiment allowed bees an unobstructed path to a feeding area. The bumble bees  were given two options – go directly to an abundant and easy feeding area, or take a detour with the opportunity to roll around on colorful small wooden balls. 


Yes, many of the bees took the detour. How could it be otherwise? Walking backwards with the balls, doing somersaults and otherwise just exploring. Interesting to note that younger bees were more inclined to take the detour. 


Does this mean Bumble bees are willing go out of their way to engage in play? 


In nature,  it is not so easy to be a bee. To a bird – a bumble bee is probably a delicious little puff of sustenance, to a crab spider, the same. This summer I watched a large black hornet catch a honey bee mid air – take it under a leaf and consume it on the spot. 


And yet, play is still considered a possibility. 


Play is still considered a possibility. Can we make that true in our own life? 


Dogen says : In order to appreciate the 10 thousand dharmas we should know that although they may look round or square the other qualities of oceans and mountains are infinite in variety, furthermore other universes lie in all quarters. 


That truth is sublime. Other universes lie in all quarters. It seems that what is possible to actually know – with any kind of certainty – is incredibly small and subject to change. This sublime not knowing, is an essential key to practice.  However many experiments we run – what can we ever really know about the life of a bumble bee? 


In another study on bumblebees, scientists from the same university used a plastic replica bee on a stick to see if they could teach bumble bees to find hidden sources of sugar water.


Yes, thank you fellow humans. I love the birds eye view of that study. The humans bent over in white lab coats and safety googles, holding their breath and carefully maneuvering their decoy bee in hopes of making connection with another species.


It’s an act of loving defiance in a way. Yes, the suffering in this realm is great. Yes, we must not turn away from it. And yes, we must also take the detour. To be curious, to bring life to our life and to not know. It’s challenging to be a creature on this planet.  Stay with it. Stay with play. 


We can continue to be curious and awake to all that we do not know in the ever changing mystery we call the world. Let’s continue to lean on each other in love and in connection.