What I Learned from a Cockroach

Like most people, I find cockroaches disgusting and repulsive, but one cockroach taught me a lesson just at the time I needed it. I’m afraid of bugs…always have been. I still remember them knocking and buzzing at the screen as I tried to sleep on a hot night without air conditioning in Chicago when I was a young girl.

It was the mid-90s on a sultry afternoon in New Orleans. I’d just left our company’s partner conference. I was in turmoil about whether to leave the company; it was just a matter of time before it would go belly up. Layoffs were underway, and the high-tech giant was floundering.

I was burned out; and as the workers left, the rest of us shouldered more of the load. I had reached a fork in the road: Stay or go before the end. I was offered a corporate position, but it was really too late for a turnaround. If I left, I had no idea what I would do next. I felt “stuck” in my responsibilities and could not see a way out.

On the way back to the hotel, I discovered an art glass studio where students were shaping lava-like, molten glass into beautiful decorative vases and bowls. I love art glass, so I couldn’t pass up the chance to watch the amazing process of golden liquid glass being fired. It was an old warehouse with a tall, arched glass skylight, a dramatic rooftop for the fiery ovens below, where the glass was given its final form.

Suddenly a storm blew in, the sky blackened, and lightning streaked above the skylight, putting nature’s fireworks on display—a theatrical production of fire and rain clashing as the glass was given life by the glassblowers: a dramatic moment of blazing fire, pounding water, and lashing wind.

A deluge struck the building, and we were caught on foot in a flash flood. The street quickly swelled with rushing water. We took off our shoes, rolled up our slacks, and waded into thigh-high murky water, feeling the pavement under our feet, unable to see what was beneath the quickening current.

We sought higher ground and saw a historic town home nearby with a dozen steps up to its landing. We climbed as quickly as we could to safety as the water continued to rise. We were not the only ones seeking dry ground. Below us, we watched a giant roach instinctively inch its way up each concrete step to avoid being swept away. Once again, I felt that familiar revulsion, but I was stuck in place.

As I observed the roach work its way to safety, I became fascinated by its behavior. It knew what to do and how to survive. In the storm, the roach moved forward to live. That was the sign I needed. I, too, had to move on and flee the corporate storm that was destroying my spirit and future.

I am still squeamish when I see a cockroach but am grateful for the lesson it taught me that day, when I needed to escape the murky turmoil around me and regain my footing on solid ground. Sometimes, life lessons come from the most unexpected encounters.

Previously posted: http://justdoingmythingcom.blogspot.com

Erana Leiken

About the Author | Erana Leiken

Erana Leiken, principal of Tiger Marketing, is a marketing and PR consultant and freelance writer. She also teaches communication courses at the University of Phoenix. She is writing creative nonfiction and expanding her blog into a memoir. https://justdoingmythingcom.blogspot.com/

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