Stories

In Pursuit of Light

A little girl runs around the yard on a sticky summer evening snatching at the air trying to grab the fleeting flashes of light dancing in the dark.

Back and forth in her nightgown, the back of her neck getting sticky, and her little face puckering with concentration and frustration. “What a pointless pursuit: to chase something fleeting only to hold it in your hand for a moment and let it go,” says exactly no one when they see a child out before bedtime catching lightening bugs.

“I can’t catch it!” is generally met with a “Keep on trying.” I hear the excitement in my little niece’s voice when she catches one, and the disappointment when she loses it, and see the joy of the pursuit. The scene makes you smile. It makes you want to run and grab a jar. It makes you remember smearing glowing bug juice on your skinny arms and dancing around in a childish pagan ritual. Or at least that’s what I did. Firefly sacrifice.

 

But now, while we may wax nostalgic at video clips, the pursuit of beauty for its own sake, doing something good because it is good, working long hard hours for one little moment, these are endeavors that we no longer accept. It’s not only that childhood is fleeting, but also that simplicity is difficult to enjoy as your life becomes increasing complicated, and things classified as pointless become just that. But why does everything have to be so sharp? Why can we not hold something alive softly in our hands and watch it glow? Stand breathless and watch the space between our fingers come alive with light as we slowly close our hands for a moment, making a little lamp in the night. Not everything will last. Some of your efforts will only change things for a moment, that change may be small, it may only be yours.