By Dana Gornall
Sitting at the table on the outside patio with a cup of coffee, I spot the bug—miniscule—crawling this way and that.
My daughter said they were ants, but I’m wasn’t sure. My dad calls them, no-see-ums, which seems like a hilarious name because you can definitely see them. A quick Google search (yes, you can actually search: no-see-ums) tells me they are biting midges, most popular in coastal Florida, which is where we are right now.
What began as a last mini-vacation for my daughter and her friend, a week in Florida with both my parents at their wintering home, morphed into my older brother and I splitting the week down here with them. My mother fell and broke her wrist a few weeks ago, and my dad’s overall health (and balance) is getting worse, so we all felt like another adult to attend to things was best.
But, back to the no-see-ums, that seem to be just about everywhere when you least expect them.
I notice one crawling around on the stove—the stove—I see a few on the Keurig coffee maker, I pulled a banana off the bunch yesterday morning and one was on a banana. We tried ant traps , but they really aren’t ants, and I’m not sure they are working for these no-see-ums that we can definitely see.
Back to Google.
How to get rid of no-see-ums? Insect repellent. Avon repellent spray. No-See-Um Bug Spray. Dynatrap No-See-Um and Mosquito Trap.
The names crack me up, but this is the accepted name of these tiny pests. And apparently they bite, and suck blood. Lovely.
It’s the last full day here in Florida and we head back tomorrow. As I sit here enjoying my coffee before the heat of the day hits, the parallels are drawn between these no-see-ums and the mind.
The thoughts we have that scroll through the mind like a screen play, the to-do list, the voice that narrates our day, there are those.
But then there are the miniscule thoughts, the teeny, almost unnoticed, insidious thoughts, that go unseen. They crawl around, in the most unexpected places at the most unexpected times, and they suck our blood. Okay, well not literally, but they can dig around and start a whole host of problems.
Anxiety and depression, insecurity, worry, fear—they all stem from these tiny, annoying, impetuous thoughts. We medicate, we meditate, we vent, we journal, we suppress. But they are still there, still come back.
Leaning back into my chair, I lift my coffee cup to my mouth, and sip.
I close my eyes, breathe in and out, and count. I let the no-see-ums come in, come out, I breathe and count. They are there, they still crawl around, they are unavoidable, but I know with practice they can be repelled, just like those damn midges.
Maybe I can live with them. Awareness is the secret sauce, according to all the gurus and zen masters. Knowing they exist and watching where the mind goes is how we build equanimity, that somewhat elusive mind-state in which disruption fails to bother us.
I open my eyes and spot a no-see-um heading toward my coffee cup and brush it away.
None but ourselves can free our minds. ~ Bob Marley