I love watching animated children’s movies.
My husband doesn’t.
That means that whenever we watch a movie together it’s usually not animated.
I also love feeding my “inner child”, so whenever we fly long distance, I make a point of watching something kid related.
Recently we flew overseas to visit family. On this particular flight, the movie I watched was Grave of the Fireflies.
It’s the story of a young Japanese boy who struggles to keep himself and his little sister alive. Both of their parents have been killed in World War II and no one else cares about them.
It’s a very sad movie.
But the sadness is punctuated every now and again with delightful scenes where fireflies shimmer in the darkening evening.
Watching those fireflies flit across the small screen, I am suddenly 4 years old again. It’s a hot, dusky summers’ evening and my father has unexpectedly allowed me to stay up late. Hand in hand, we walk together to the farmer’s field across from our house.
I’m still not sure why we are there until he quietly points out the fireflies drifting over the fragrant grass.
If you’ve never seen fireflies, then just imagine tiny fairy lights floating through the darkness. The lights twinkle on and off in exquisite patterns that are beautiful.
It is a magical moment. The joy of unexpectedly being able to spend time with my dad. The excitement of being out late. The delicious scents floating on the warm summer breeze. The wonder at seeing such a tiny creature emit penetrating pulses of light … all without a battery.
But there is also a small tinge of sadness as my father explains the fireflies lifecycle and I realize just how fleeting life is for them.
As I grew older, I realized that it wasn’t just fireflies who have a short lifespan. Humans don’t stick around on this earth that long either … at least in the grand scheme of things.
It used to bother me a bit. Okay. It bothered me a lot.
What was the point if life is so short? Why are we even here? Where is the meaning in it all?
Surprisingly, that firefly moment of my childhood held part of the answer for me.
Humans are like fireflies. It’s wondrous that we exist at all. We … like the fireflies … emit a sort of unwitting, exquisite beauty just by being alive. Despite the pain. Despite the short lifespan. Despite the occasional sense of existential despair.
For me, there are times when I feel deep sadness or even despair at the seeming futility of it all. Yet somehow, the memory of those little pinpoints of light on a dusky evening, long ago, overrides everything.
The memory of that special firefly moment with my father turns those negative thoughts into little flashes of positivity that keep me moving forward.
What about you?
What techniques do you use to keep on top of your moments of despair, big or small?
Do you have something akin to Firefly moments that help you keep trying when things aren’t going so well? Or when life seems futile and empty?
Share your tip in the comments below so others can benefit from your life experience and wisdom too.
Image Credits: Rondell Melig and Pixabay