In the summer children spend early evening catching fireflies but adults spend that same time wondering. They wonder why a firefly lights up. They wonder why fireflies don’t live very long. And then they wonder about tomorrow and forget about the fate and purpose of fireflies. Though fireflies may seem insignificant and too small there is certainly something to be learned from them. A firefly’s life is much like a human’s, we are searching for something in the dark and we have tendency to gather against the darkness as well.
Scientists claim a firefly only lights up when searching for a mate and has a very limited time to find them. When their light goes out and their mate still lost that is the end of it. The life of fireflies almost seems to be a story of star-crossed lovers. We could be gripping the edge of our seats in anticipation of their reunion with their lost love, or their tragic death. Indeed, these insects lead a poetic existence. The metaphor in this poem would be something like, “The life of a firefly is the life of every human on this planet.” Every human searches for that perfect mate, that person that completes them and lights the way in the dark. Often the human lifespan is said to be short and we are warned not to take it for granted, somewhat like a firefly. Will we find that perfect mate before our own light goes out?
Another thing known about fireflies is that they always gather. They are faint twinkling lights against a backdrop of night. Scientists would have us believe they gather because then there is more of a chance they will find their mate. But philosophers and romantics would say that they gather for comfort. Night is an ominous thing and most times it feels like an entity constantly moving against us. Night harbors tales of fright, unseen monsters, and mystery. A very large percentage of crimes happen in the cover of night. So it could be argued that fireflies know on an instinctual level that night is uncertain and they may not live to see the morning, how could they bring themselves comfort? They become a beacon. This beacon, though faint, wards off the dark. People do the same in that they gather together for the warmth of others to ward of something sinister and scary.
When your children are out catching fireflies remember they are more than fun bugs to catch and seek out. Fireflies lead a tragic life of lost love perhaps to fight off this feeling of loneliness and being lost they gather. In what way isn’t this like a life led by a person? Aren’t we searching for a light to illuminate our lives that may dark and dim at times? How do we comfort each other if it isn’t seeking the presence of another? If there is no light in the darkness how do we find what we ultimately need, love and comfort?
“To cure the soul by means of the senses, and to cure the senses by means of the soul.” (The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde)