January 15, 2016

A Day in the Life: Lessons from the World’s Briefest-Living Lovers.

"sonnenbad der eintagsfliegen", Leo Grübler, Flickr

“Again the season of Spring has come,
and a spring-source rises under everything.”
~ Rumi, from the poem, Spring

I am water born.

I rise from the silted floor of the lake, on the first and the last day of my life. Like that great fiery star.

We rise together, the light of the world and me, and with blazing wings we burst from the lake’s embrace into a clear blue sky.

Water, fire, air and my earthly body are massed, for an infinite moment, in chaos and confusion, and then dispersed, in the same instance in perfect order. Suddenly I am flying on new wings, on a new wind. It is all new to me—all a wonder.

The tranquil lake makes a faultless imitation of the sky. Which is which I cannot truly know, until I look to the flaming horizon. There the two bodies of heaven and earth make love, make war, make peace, over and over. There at least one might know up from down.

Slowly the sun climbs higher into the sky, and I follow, shedding my old skin and my old wings. Now my flight is a song, a dance of delight, and my new wings of light are as clear as the spring sky.

In that moment a great gilled beast leaps from the lake, its tail furiously fanning the air, its scales like a legion of painted shields, deflecting the shafts of sunlight thrown its way. Its jagged mouth is gaping wide, its glassy black eyes are fixed, only on me. But before my heart has missed a beat my wings of light have beat the air a hundred times and lifted me as high as they might, and out of harm’s way. The great rainbow fish plunges back into the lake, a sound like a stone dropped from heaven’s hand.

There is a single cloud in the morning sky, heavy and humming with thunder, and yet it threatens no rain. I am drawn to its low pitched drone like an enchantment. But what wish could possibly be fulfilled by such brooding darkness. It is a question answered as quickly as it arises, as the cloud envelops me like an eclipse. A tempest of wings whir and whip  about me, and I am carried to the heart of the cloud by a cacophonous, cascading momentum.

There, among the countless winged forms we see one another, and we fall like two stars into each others’ irrepressible influence. We collide, embrace, attached at the waist, and dance in spirals, ascending, descending and ascending again, and again, as though we have all the time in the world. I have never known anything like this.

What pain there is in love, and what bliss.

The sun slowly arcs across the sky, and we follow—a twisting storm of wings, an immense shadow, still dancing and shimmering.

Then, in accord with the last sunlight, we fall from the sky and land at the lake’s shore, still tangled in one another.

My lover walks to the water’s edge on delicate legs, and with her abdomen half immersed, she gives birth.

So it is, we have fulfilled our purpose, simply to love and be loved, and to leave in our passing the promise of new life. And with that, and the setting of the sun, we die.

At least for another day.

The mayfly is an aquatic insect part of the ancient order of insects Palaeoptera, which also contains dragonflies and damselflies. Over 3,000 species of mayfly are known worldwide. The aquatic nymphs emerge from fresh water in great numbers, morph into a mature adult, the imago, and seek out a partner to reproduce with.

The brief lives of mayflies have been observed since Aristotle in ancient Greece. The shortest lifespan of any mayfly is the Dolania americana, the adult females of the species live for less than five minutes, although several hours to a day is more usual in other species. The brief existence of the mayfly and search to fulfill its purpose is a poignant metaphor for how fleeting and precious life really is, and also how enduring.


Relephant read:

The Truth About Living in the “Now:” An Allegory.


Author: Arun Eden-Lewis

Editor: Khara-Jade Warren

Image: Leo Grübler/ Flickr


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