Categories: Mirror Mirror

Jennifer Allen


By Jennifer Allen

Lives aren’t completed.
They’re concluded.
You are, and forever will be, unfinished.
This is nature.
Cycles and spectrums.
Moments and seasons.
Do you ask when the weather will be complete?
The spring finished?
Your life won’t have one point or purpose.
You’re lovelier than that.
~ Jarod K. Anderson

We once again sashay our way through the seasons as the month of May helps inch us all just a little bit closer to Summer. Spring is not quite over yet, though, and the eastern United States will soon bear witness to a rare phenomenon where two separate broods of cicadas will emerge to occupy nearby trees and fill the warm air with their unique songs. Indeed, both a 13-year brood and 17-year brood shall invoke the periodical circle of life in tandem for a few short weeks; a serendipitous cycle that hasn’t occurred since 1803.

While these two broods usually don’t intermingle, it’s still fascinating to witness such a boom. The large, winged Magicicada follow an intricate schedule with their young living underground for much longer than most other insects live. They eat, grow, burrow, and simply… wait until the perfect time to rise up and attempt to attract potential mates with their cacophonous whistles. Such a technique is no doubt a way for them to continue as a species due to the number of predators.

Some find them grotesque. Others see them as intriguingly beautiful. Within a year already spotted with terrestrial earthquakes and solar eclipses, the appearance of these large bugs will seem (to some) like another sign of the Apocalypse.

I am simply captivated by nature’s ability to balance itself through occurrences such as this. Observing these periodical cicadas unfurl from their shed skins “like flowers,” nymphs floating from tree to tree “like snowflakes”. The sun glimmers through gossamer wings as they fly overhead, and forests seem to come alive with the sound of crackling leaves as they crawl out of their holes in the dark.

Yet the phenomenon is also a reminder that our own lives are but a blink within the greater picture. As the shortness of life calls to us, each day calls for the fullness of each hour, each moment. Human beings celebrate our very existence through religious rites passed down from our predecessors.

As we pray, dance, sing, or meditate… a portal leading us toward a heightened presence opens up as every minute ticks and pulsates with an extra fullness of being, while at the same time attuning us to the cyclical essence of time and its correlation to life and death.

We are all earthly bodies locked in a celestial dance

Some beliefs prefer to take this a step further by way of reincarnation and rebirth, and recurrent means by which the Earth moves between each season seem to support this. We are all earthly bodies locked in a celestial dance of which we are never more aware than when the seasons turn. While this is much more apparent within other animal species, this does not exclude our own.

As days grow longer or shorter, our very lives adapt in a multitude of ways as the little blue ball we reside upon traverses around our star.

Author Henry Beston once wrote:

“With the change, there comes something particularly needed by the human spirit — an affirmation of that eternal change in nature which rules out stagnancy, and the appearance of the entirely new within the pattern of the old… I suspect that in human existence our problem is the finding of some like harmony between what is fixed and of the pattern and what is untried and eager to be born.”

The reemergence of these whistling insects is simply a much more poignant personification of this, as in a way the cicadas breeding patterns remind us of those small moments of clarity brought forth while contemplating our own mortality.

While the cicadas will not be nearly as noticeable in the Carolinas this time around, they will certainly be discussed in national news broadcasts within the next few weeks. Take the time to embrace this unique spectacle and enjoy the multi-layered chorus of their mating calls.

Such wondrous miracles of nature are to be celebrated and remembered, as should all things which remind us that life (and death) is beautiful, precious, and too often taken for granted.

Jennifer Allen works at Saathee and is also a Podcaster, Blogger, Photographer, Graphic Artist, Gamer, Martial Arts Practitioner, and an all around Pop Culture Geek. You can reach her at [email protected].