Wednesday, August 28, 1996 by Dave Winer.
It's bee season here in California.
I sit on the patio by the pool, the usual routine, coffee, a newspaper, music, bees. Look at the trees and swat them away. They're yellowjackets, they don't sting, but they sure are annoying.
The first summer here the humans gave in to the bees. We stayed indoors in bee season. I didn't know how to fight back. Now, four summers into living here, the bees are almost under control. The key -- bee traps.
I hang several yellow plastic cylinders from trees and bushes or hooks on the side of the house. There are three tiny entrances to each trap on the bottom. They lead up a funnel into a larger chamber that can hold hundreds of bees. It's a one-way trip, bees go in but don't come out.
To lure them into the trap you spread a sticky awful-smelling mixture onto a cotton wad and put it into the trap. Bees love the smell of this stuff. Be careful not to get any on yourself, it doesn't wash off easily, and for the next few hours you'll attract the bees, even indoors. Uck! Been there, done that.
I wonder if the bees are philosophical about their condition in the last minutes of life. I wonder what words they have to describe the dilemma. I wonder if mothers and sisters are in there; brothers and fathers. Do they mourn the passing of their friends and family? Do they have bee priests and doctors to provide spiritual context, or to shrug their shoulders and say that nothing can be done?
And how close to the truth could they possibly get when they ask the question we all want to know the answer to: Why? "Why do we live and why am I dying?" the bee could ask in his or her final reflections. I can't answer the first question, but I know the answer to the second one. I kill bees so I can enjoy a nice August afternoon in peace.
We die a thousand deaths in this life. Sometimes I think that all art comes from grief -- the mourning of our own deaths. All victories, attempted ones too, are a denial of our mortality. Anger is our wish to live forever. Love is our knowledge that life is greater than it may seem.
On down days, I see our planet as a huge bee trap for humanity. Nowhere to go from here. Enjoy the ride the best you can, knowing that it's sure to end sooner than we'd like.
Can we know why we live? No, I don't think so. I think the answer is there, but the terminology and context would be totally foreign to us. We can't understand because we are not beings that understand. At our best, we love and create and enjoy. But we remain clueless to our purpose.
I remind myself that I kill bees so I can enjoy a nice August afternoon in peace. I wonder what being I please or not. Who created me and why? When my body feels weak I wonder if some higher being is enjoying his August afternoon at my expense.
I get a phone call from a reporter, but I don't take it. He wants to know why Mac developers are moving to Windows. Why? Why?
PS: Great stuff!