By Ellie Greenberger
I was reading Fireflies by Aimee Nechukumatahil for class, and I learned that fireflies live about two years. They spend most of their time underground simply sleeping and eating. When we see them come out, they only have about one or two weeks left to live.
As I read this, I realized that fireflies aren’t so different from me. Of course they are flying bugs, and I am a slow moving captive of gravity. Yet, if we are being honest, I spend most of my spare time sleeping and eating in my own room. It sounds like a wonderful way to live. Sleeping and eating.
But then there is this cliche, “live like you’re dying.”
Based on this cliche, if we have the chance to know when we are going to die, we would try to change, to be good people, to make a difference, to be remembered. We would embody the little firefly who uses a the last meager two weeks of its life to light up the world, only 2 percent of its life. In a human life span of 80 years, it would be equivalent to using the last year and half of your life to light up someone else’s life.
But shouldn’t we try and light up people’s life much more than that?
Ever since I read Beowulf in high school, I only remember one thing from it. I remember that the people in Beowulf’s time believed that the path to immortality lay in being remembered for heroic deeds. The epic was their way of immortalizing him.
A firefly is immortalized for being a nostalgic pull for summer nights where flashes of smiles are reserved for the flash of the bulb of a bug instead of the camera. Where summer nights humidity was suddenly bearable as if pierced by the light as the darkness was.
Heroism. Light. Those are the things that are immortal and timeless.
Yet when you think about humanity, your first thought may not always be light and heroic. As humans live most of our life like the firefly. We have our underground, the people we surround ourselves with most of whom are similar to us, share our ideals, and share our viewpoints. Our underground is safe. Our underground is not immortal.
We are not all going to be able to light the world on our own, instead we, like the firefly, give off tiny flashes of light and happiness. But we can only do this when we step away from our underground, and light up other people. We use our light make someone else’s a little happier. . So that when people think of humanity they think of light and goodness and everyday heroism. They won’t think of the infamous.
While we may choose live like a firefly, we can also choose to light up the world on days other than summer nights for longer than two percent of our lives.