Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Bee's Tale

Animists are fond of remembering the olden days, when nonhumans spoke to human people and taught us spiritual lessons, or saved our children from disasters, or showed us the way to water in times of drought. Why do we think they’ve stopped talking to us? They’re still talking. We just don’t listen.

Meanwhile, I wonder about the nostalgic glow in which we’ve wrapped the nonhumans up. Puh-leeze! The animal people and the plant people are not always the patient and benevolent heroes of the old folktales. Remember the tricksters who kicked our butts in the desert long ago? Remember what big teeth grandma had?

Yesterday evening, for example, Jack and I are kicking back on the porch to conversate and watch the day dissolve into the greenly June night. I settle into my deck chair with a sigh of contentment. Then a massive wood bee appears above my head. For a while I ignore him, and focus on my conversation with Jack.

“Oh, yes,” I’m saying, “Animism, yes this and Animism yes that.” But Bee keeps coming close, his buzzing loud and annoying.

“Get lost, asshole,” I yell at Bee, ducking yet again to avoid him.

“Get the hell out of my way, human,” says Bee.

Now, here’s the heart of the issue. He’s talking to me, right? But do I listen? No-o-o-o, not me. Not the professed Animist. I act like a typical stupid human and ignore him. He can’t get much louder.

“Look,” says Bee. “I’m exhausted. It’s the end of one of my first days awake for the season. I worked by butt off today, and I want to get into my beddy-bye, which is located right behind your fat human head, and go to sleep. So, fuck off and let me go home.”

I ignore him. “Yes, yes,” I say to Jack, swatting the bee away again. “Animism yes this. Pass the bottle. Boy, am I happy to be sitting here. I sure don’t want to move.”

“Ok,” says Bee, working up a real head of steam. “You asked for it.” And Bee butts me right in my sore shoulder, which scares the hell outta me, since I really don’t want to get stung by one of those wood bee boys, and my body reacts by flinching away, which wrenches my sore arm, and suddenly I’m in so much pain that I’m face-down on the porch, and Jack is calling to me, “Honey, honey, are you ok? What’s wrong?” And I’m rolling around on the porch wailing and holding my arm.

“Serves you right,” says Bee, and he scoots around me and zips into his house.

The nonhumans are talking. We’re not listening.

Did you know that factory vegetables have only a fraction of the nutrition that organically-raised vegetables have? How loud do the vege-people have to talk to get us to listen? How many tears will the rainforest animal people shed before we recognize that the loss of their habitat will kill us humans, too? How many plants will have their sexuality stripped from them, how many rivers will be polluted with our toxins, how many sea creatures will swallow plastic and die before we hear their cries and get the hell out of the way?

The nonhumans are willing to teach us. They have the answers to our human problems, of global warming, interpersonal violence, hunger and want, and the nonhumans desperately want to save us from ourselves, because in saving us, they also save themselves. This earth planet is delicately balanced to be a home for all of us, after all. Will we drag the nonhumans down to hell with us?

“Listen to us again,” the nonhumans beg. “We’ll teach you how to live in balance.”

But if I can’t even hear the hollering of one very loud wood bee . . .