Bumble Bees and Emotions

Bees can see colors faster and more vividly than humans can.

“Well, big woop-tee-doo!” remarks the reader not fascinated at all by biological science.

“Neat!” exclaims the reader who always keeps a science journal within reach.

“Cool… but what does it matter?” asks the reader who’s somewhere in between.

Exactly. Why should we care if bees can see colors faster and better than we can? What does it matter if another living thing can do something that we ourselves cannot even fathom?

It matters because what they experience to a greater degree matters most to them, and results in a life a little more beautiful to behold.

Blog confessional #4: I am an emotional person.

I am a highly, analytically, socially, responsively, emotionally emotional person. All my life, this has been an issue. My emotions are rarely self-generated; they almost always involve interactions with others:

The Kindergarten Friend’s Birthday Party Where I Was Told I Dance Too Much
The First Baptist Church Episodes When I Was Teased and Bullied For Crying Too Much
The Middle School Basketball Team Fiasco With the Teammate Who Said I Get Angry and Hurt Too Much
The High School Sophomore Woes While I Was Still Caring For What the World Thought of My Body Too Much
The Senior Class Wishes to Be Someone Else Too Much
The Current Friends Who View Me As Less For Expressively Emotions Too Much

Because of that last example, I have doubted this emotional trait of mine more than usual. Sure, being emotional has given life a few more ups and downs than the typical roller coaster, but never before now have I considered it to be a real flaw. Like a gene mutation or birth defect, somehow I have been convinced by those around me that being emotional is wrong, weak and unattractive in any person.

The truth is, the individuals in my life who look down on me for being emotional are self-suscribed unemotional beings. These same individuals would argue that emotions get in the way of business, leadership, relationships and daily life.

If we could have a conversation with a bumble bee about the colors we see in a flower, we might simply say something about the particular shade of the flower’s petals. The bumble bee might be confused or  intrigued why we don’t see all the shades and dimensions he sees in the flower, or why the intensity of the colors is not more overwhelming and awe-inspiring to us. 

You see, we can’t judge the bumble bee for what he sees because his senses are more heightened compared to ours. We don’t blame him for being able to experience more than we can because we understand that biologically he was made to perceive sight differently.

The same logic applies to the emotional human being. Emotions should not be discounted because they are not felt by all parties. Those who experience greater depths and amounts of emotions simply possess a greater aptitude for emotion than those who do not. The emotional human being can go throughout a 24-hour period and sense many more emotions than the average human being in the same way that the bumble bee can see many more colors than we can.

When we are able to generate emotions because of another human being, it makes it easier to place a value on their souls and see them as more than another body breathing in air. If you cannot feel anything for a stranger, it is hard to care about the quality of their life, or whether they even live or die.

(I am not saying that those who don’t feel as many emotions in a given day hate the world and can’t care for others. I am also not saying that emotional people are selfless and caring by nature. On the contrary, I have met many an emotional person who cared about nothing but their own feelings and well-being.

I am saying that experiencing a multitude of emotions is not such a terrible thing if you want to make a difference in others’ lives. Emotions can serve as a powerful first step in change of any kind. Feelings like anger, sadness, remorse, jealousy, frustration, irritation, curiosity, ecstasy, joy and thoughtfulness can all create pathways for action with people. This is why I believe emotions should never be excluded from business, leadership, or relationships.)

Emotions, like the many colors that bumble bees see, are not necessarily life-enhancing by themselves. The colors that bees see enhance their perception of what matters most to them: flowers. Emotions have the power to enhance our perception of other people.    If we want to value people above all, then emotions unlock our potential for compassion.

When what we most care about is perceived to a greater degree, life as a result becomes a little more beautiful to behold. 


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