My bees survived the winter.
Hmmm, there's something amiss in the sentence above. My bees. What a foolish assumption I have learned.
The use of my is a simple determiner to show possession. Using my is simply a way of using speech and is entirely appropriate; but that isn't what throws me. It is in the thinking that I possess a hive of insects that belong to nature, or to them-insect-selves, or to no one. Possession implies control. Managing beehives does not mean control. A hive may abscond, swarm or disappear for no apparent reason at all. Last year, I lost two queens. Where did they go? A hive may be inflicted with mites, to which we may try to control. We position the hives facing the south, we cut down all the limbs that block the sun, yet the wild hive around the corner that lives in a fence post, thrives in total shade. We think we know.
My children. Ha! Even more of an illusion, though it's very important to claim one's children. Sad would be the day if I referred to them only as Tony's children or the earth's children--they are distinctly and gratefully all mine. Yet, they never really were. Again--control is the theme word of the day. Yes, we guide, nourish and bring-them-up, but all the control rests within their own mind and spirit. To think otherwise is perpetually trying to tether a wild horse, which brings visions of Sisyphus rolling that stone up the hill, only to have it roll back down.
French philosopher Albert Camus wrote that it was in the moment that the stone rested at the bottom of he hill, before Sisyphus rolled it up again, that he was interested in. In that moment is when man takes control of his destiny--even though that control is lacking at every other step of the way. It is the one slice of hope that we can control our circumstances, our bees, our children that helps us push that rock, to start over, to buy another queen, to ground a child for insubordination, or to enter a classroom. That space where we think, "I will make a difference; I choose to roll this boulder up the hill." In the doing, the practice, the patience, we become, even if nothing is "ours."
Hence the importance of my: my life.
Postscript: the myth of Sisyphus, is well, a myth. While discussing it in class, a student raised his hand to point out that his version, has Sisyphus eventually rolling the boulder over the cliff and defeating his life of punishment. It's not the version I was aware of, but it brings yet another perspective of hope and possibility: defeat and control is imminent when we persist.