Busy Bees!

April 9

We have killed off the bees. Oh, sure MAYBE they’re just all dying from natural causes like mites or diseases, but we know in our hearts we have something to do with it. Pesticides are the obvious suspects, one way or other weakening the immune system of the bees so they succumb to opportunistic pathogens. For me, first I read that the honeybees were ailing, but still saw them in my garden. Then I didn’t see them in my garden anymore, but their spots were taken by the robust and reliable bumblebees. And then the bumblebees stopped showing up. Now my flowers bloom in vain. All that effort of producing blossoms to attract…nothing. It is a dead spring of emptiness, and decidedly forlorn.

But we’ve decided to replace all the bees with ourselves now. No, we do not pollinate flowers, but we are determined to mimic the now-departed insects with endless drone-like busyness. It’s the new thing, but not that new. Our lives are now like my kitchen utility drawer, over-filled to the point where it can no longer be opened because the implements and junk are piled up and ramming into the top of the drawer frame. For some people, lives this packed are clearly an unavoidable nightmare. For others, a fashion statement. People can’t sit still a SECOND without working their communications technology in front of everyone, friend or stranger alike. My sense of this busyness is no doubt colored by living in DC, where it is an out-and-out pathology. Any unstructured time here is viewed as abject failure, so there is a frantic forward-oriented overscheduling to ensure unstructured time doesn’t ever catch you by surprise.

People can, and do get better and better at this sort of juggling, and also their capacity to complain/brag about it. Personally, I’ve always suspected that a need to fill all time with activity is  symptomatic of trying to avoid facing a certain emotional emptiness. Emptiness a little like a Spring garden without bees.

Tom Toles is the editorial cartoonist for The Post and writes the Tom Toles blog.
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Tom Toles · April 8