Busy Little Bee

January 16, 2009


HOW doth the little busy bee
Improve each shining hour,
And gather honey all the day
From every opening flower!

          — Isaac Watts, “Against Idleness and Mischief”

Busy little bee. That’s me. The month of December and January have flown by without my head poking out of the window. Every ERA resource web site has become a new flower as I fly on down the road of the Equal Rights Amendment. No time to stop and chat. No time to spend with friends. Just buzz me to the next URL, where I can drink up the sweet nectar.


My goddish, this is huge, this ERA grove. Flying from flower to flower I search for my queen, for her scent, for her guidance, for her direction. Each rose petal tells of her past, and with each gathering the grove gets bigger and bigger. I continue to call out to the other bees that swarm around the thousands of carnations, daffodils, and babie’s breath. I can hear their buzzing but we are too busy to connect. Busy, busy, busy.

But busy doing what? 
   Bee organization, that’s what! 
But it is winter. Bees are barely active in the winter, I say. 
   But the hive is in danger, you scream. 
Have you seen the queen? I ask.
    No. I have been too busy to even care. 

It is at this moment that I realize this swarm has no queen. No one else notices because the petals are so colorful and flashy. And it is at this moment that I realize I am addicted and programed. Petals… every.

Beyond the grove, my city is burning. Eight blocks from my hive, businesses have been destroyed. The buzzing I hear each night comes from the helicopters that hover above my warehouse home in West Oakland, CA. People outside of my window cry, he was wronged, I’ve been evicted, where’s my money, can I have? Their sounds startle me and force me to hear outside of my own brain. 

Listen… can you hear it?… The sounds of the city. A car with thumping music, people talking, someone’s roasting coffee, the sun is actually out and it feels like a spring day, my trees have no leaves, the weeds have turned to green unlike their summer brown, should I exercise today since I haven’t since November, maybe I will call my mother or my sister or my daughter or my granddaughter.

Expressing takes a certain amount of time. Feeling and connecting to what is really important requires one to leave the busyness behind and engage fully with the physical. I pull myself away from the beauty of the petal and fly high into the ether. From this space above the grove looks like a gigantic mosaic quilt.

011609_busybee_2It is here, in the floating stillness that I can hear her, the queen. It is here that I am directed and guided. She asks me to concentrate and she asks me to discriminate against busyness for busyness sake. She points out the long windy brown ERA path and talks about how women use that path to connect to each other. She says that all power lies within each connection and that real power is hidden away.

I float back to my petal and sit looking at it. I know what has meaning. My daughter. My granddaughter. I write these words down on a pink postit and stick it on my petal, high, right side of the monster 24” screen. Stuck there as a reminder that busyness without meaning is a waste of my time. I make a conscious effort to stop and be still. Even if it is just for a moment.