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Don’t Bug Out! This May Be the Sign We’ve All Been Waiting For

I know I’m probably not in the popular group these days when I say that I am a big fan of, and am eagerly waiting to see what happens with, this next generation, this new group of youngsters, teenagers really, who are about to emerge into the world to tell us what we all have been waiting to hear and to show us their unique way of living the good life.

By “this next generation,” I don’t mean Generation X (or Y or Z), though their call sign looks like a capital letter. But it’s not, actually, it’s the Roman numeral for “10” and has nothing to do with age.

Of course, I’m talking about Brood X, or the Great Eastern Brood of periodical cicadas that have been laying low, literally, for 17 years and are expected to emerge in about 15 states in eastern North America over the coming weeks. We – or I and a handful of others, truth be told, in terms of my own brood of family and friends – have been eagerly anticipating their arrival for months.

It’s truly an amazing phenomenon that happens nowhere else in the world quite like this.

And as I write this, in late May, they have finally begun to arrive, and I could not be more excited and impressed: the sheer numbers alone, as they marshal up from underground, crawling out of what look like tiny missile silos, first emerging in their rusty, crusty body armor, then begin to make their way up trunks of trees and bushes or stone walls, water fountains, trash cans (or whatever climbing device happens to be in their path); then outgrow and exit that exoskeleton and begin to transform butterfly-like (more ugly moth-like, I’ll admit) into complete and familiar bug-eyed, buzzing, flying machines in a matter of hours. Then they stumble and bumble their way, sometimes creepy-crawling, sometimes leaping and fluttering, to the highest height they can reach, and then literally hum, drone, screech, squawk, and, er, “sing” to attract each other. Then they mate and mate (and mate), lay a few eggs, to start the cycle all over again, and die.

It’s truly an amazing phenomenon that happens nowhere else in the world quite like this. I’m talking about a massive emergence of insects, literally 1,000s, hundreds of 1,000s, maybe millions of pounds of cicadaen protein suddenly burbling up out of the soil, and piling up everywhere, from my vantage point at least, within eye-shot of what Baltimore journalist H.L. Mencken once called “an immense protein factory”: the Chesapeake Bay. And everything eats them – birds, other bugs, ducks, dogs, cats, raccoons, fish, lizards, even (some) humans – during the two weeks or so they’re above ground.

And for what? After spending their childhood and youth digging in the dirt, eating and sleeping for a decade and a half, only to get the call one day from Mother Nature to head out, as a teenager, and do nothing but fly around, shake-rattle-and-roll, and then make love like crazy. Sounds like my kind of people, actually.

Perhaps this year’s Brood X emergence serves as the perfect symbol for us humans, in our present moment.

Seriously, though, now that I’ve taken a few days to listen to the cicadas (they sound like an alien spaceship from an old creature-feature and are quite loud, actually – like lawnmower-loud – and constant as the sun) and to observe them – they are mesmerizing, so strange and beautiful, and mesmerizing because they’re beautiful, and beautiful because they’re strange – I’ve started to think that perhaps this time around they offer a higher purpose than serving as a party-crazed consumable. Perhaps this year’s Brood X emergence, arising from somewhere hidden, somewhere deep, somewhere out of sight, serves as the perfect symbol for us humans, in our present moment; we who have been cooped up in a dark place, and otherwise estranged from one another, for far too long, waiting for a sign. Maybe this is it.

For lately, it’s been hard to think about the future, about what could or should come next, when we have been so focused on what is and what isn’t. Maybe this incredible 17-year cyclical swarm of “locusts” is our call from Mother Nature, a symbol of hope, a reason to believe that it is time, that it is necessary, to emerge. A signal compelling us to move forward, to step outside, no matter what, and take a chance to make some noise. To bumble and buzz, and squawk, and scream, and sing. To love again. To live again.

Hope is in the air once more; like the cicadas, it’s literally buzzing around overhead. That’s what I’m feeling right now, at least: the emergence of Brood X is a reason to celebrate. And I am celebrating by listening to them, watching them, and enjoying their brief, crazy visit with us.

But I had to wonder, as I went nose to nose with one this morning, looking into its red and bloodshot, wall-eyed gaze, laughing at its heavyset, wide brow and pug nose, its spindly legs and buzzing, conical torso – what does it think of me?

What do you think? What’s YOUR story? Are you struggling to reemerge after a long period of darkness and silence? Or perhaps it’s your first time to appear, in a new form or phase in your life or career, and you’re looking for a new way to sing.

We can help. We understand that most people struggle to tell their story in a way that gets results. Mortimer Communications offers a simple process to craft a more engaging narrative that inspires your audience to act, and lets you achieve your goals. Head over to our website to find out how.

And, as an incentive, we’re offering a FREE e-guide, Why Don’t They Understand My Story?: Three Simple Tips for Ensuring Your Messaging is Working. It’s a quick read and shares a sampling of our “secret sauce” to help you start telling a better story today. Just scroll to the bottom of the home page, fill out the form, and we’ll send it to you. When you do that, you’ll get signed up to receive our newsletter and emails, which allows us to stay in touch and to share storytelling resources, tips, and other useful information, about once a month.

Also, if it’s been awhile since we’ve spoken, feel free to schedule a meeting to catch up. I’d love to find out what you’ve been up to, what changes you may be planning for the remainder of the year, and how we can help.

Henry Mortimer is a communications expert who has been distilling noise into compelling narratives for 30+ years. He launched Mortimer Communications in 2008 to help others craft authentic, compelling stories to help organizations and individuals increase sales, improve customer satisfaction, and fuel growth.

Head to to find out how. Don’t forget the FREE e-guide that can help you start telling a better story. Just scroll to the bottom of the home page, fill out the form, and we’ll send it to you.