Fireflies and the Power of Story

FirefliesWhat else holds the fascination of fireflies? Once again they light the night with mysterious flashes. One unforgettable night a few years ago I glanced out the window and saw several dozen fireflies blinking their little hearts out. I'd never seen so many in our yard at once. and I stood transfixed. Watching this fascinating show. I soon noticed that they were flashing in cycles of six blinks in three seconds, then idling for about ten seconds before repeating the sequence. They weren’t moving around much. Once in awhile I saw one blink through the air like a plane approaching the runway, but most hovered in the same spot indefinitely.

Eventually I spotted a pattern involving maybe two dozen fireflies flashing a complicated sequence of blinks. This rhythmic frenzy of flashing started in the same place every ten to twelve seconds, and though it became intuitively predictable, it was too complicated to remember. Alien code? Could be! I thought of the light show and intergalactic concert ending of the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind, recalling how sound and light bridged the communication barrier between different life forms.

Nearly thirty years ago I discovered Theomatics, an arcane library book demonstrating that both Hebrew and Latin words can be converted to numerical values. So can light waves, sound waves, and even matter (using atomic weights). We all understand the concept of writing music on staffs, a form of graphical notation. Color could be graphed in a similar way, using the numerical values of specific color tones. It is hardly a stretch of the imagination to consider translating our thoughts to Latin or Hebrew and graphing numerical word values.

I envision mind-boggling symphonies of light and sound transmitting pure thought-waves, beaming light and love through the universe. Perhaps the firefly symphony I saw was a demonstration of this possibility — a demonstration conducted in yellowish green and black, much like early computer monitors.

My thoughts turn a corner to my writing groups, both local and online, formal and ad hoc. I think of our stories as dots of light, building bridges between people. They create a web of links between us wherever we are, and that web will grow larger as they shine forth to others. Each time we share stories, we create a symphony of life, with each story carrying part of the tune. I hear everything, from lullabies, to stirring storms, combining in perfect harmony, creating something greater than the sum of the parts. As we write and share, our stories show us life and the past from new angles, hopefully wiser stronger ones. We light each others lives by sharing hope, love and humor. My life is better for the writing and sharing.

I think of the song, “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing, and edit it ever so slightly. “I’d like to teach the world to write, in perfect love and truth.” How could peace and harmony not result?

Write now: about fireflies, dreams, visions, love, peace, truth, or anything else noble and exalting that comes to mind. Share your story with at least one other person, maybe in email, maybe in person. Let your stories build bonds.


Amber Lea Starfire said...

Sharon, what a lovely post. As a native Californian, I've never actually seen fireflies. I've traveled, of course, just never been in the right place at the right time.

I love your vision of stories connecting across time and place, a "symphony of life."

Sharon Lippincott said...

Amber, come quickly. They are in full swing now, but their season is short. The blinks are part of their mating ritual. They truly are magic, and it's amazing how much light one little critter puts out.

The magic ingredient that lights them up is luciferon. How many people know that Lucifer means Light Bearer?

SuziCate said...

I witnessed the magical shows put on by fireflies last week...I only regret that at the time I did not make a connection such as this. Thank you!

Shirley said...

I LOVE this post. It reveals the enormous size of your imagination. Have you ever heard of the myth of Indra's Net. You can Google it to learn more. Your story/lit imagery reminded me of that myth.

And I share your vision--saving the world through life writing, one memoir at a time. :-)

Sharon Lippincott said...


You do make so many connections -- it takes teamwork to get them all! Over the years I've noticed that each time I'm wowed by someone else's observation, my ability to see the world in new ways grows. We feed each other that way. Connection!

Sharon Lippincott said...

Shirley, I had not heard of Indra's Net, and I thank you for pointing it out. My mother was an artist/craftsman (she despised the term craftsperson or craftswoman)and called her business, such as it was, the Spider's Web. She chose that term because spiders' webs collect all sorts of odds and ends, and so did she. She viewed the world through many lenses. I love Indra's Web!

Linda Hoye said...

What an interesting comparison between the light of fireflies and the stories we share. I have never seen fireflies but I have an image in my mind of what it must be like to see those sparks of light flitting here and there. It fits perfectly with the concept of story all over the world illuminating and changing us.