The Day(s) of our Lives

You’ve heard, maybe even pondered this thought, “What would you do if this was your last day on earth?” For some folks this is not a rhetorical question. As the end of the day approaches, some of them stretch out on the grass, and say, “I guess I’ll wrap it up for today, and forever.” Others are carried off to exotic jungle or desert locales never to be heard from again.

These folks are fruit flies. They are about as big as the period at the end of this sentence. The size of their lives is about the same. They live for one day. The ones I met live in a bottle with grass and their definition of food. In this ingenious arrangement they multiply faster than one a day. This increases their population so that twice a day some person –last night the person was Sharon my wife expertly assisted and mostly watched by me—shakes the excess flies into tongue range of two small brown lizards and two psychedelically skinned orange and black frogs owned by our grandsons. They are on vacation in Mexico (the grandsons, not the reptiles.)

They (the reptiles not the grandsons) love fruit flies. They live in two terrarium micro worlds (the reptiles not the grandsons) the lizards in a desert scene and environment, the small frogs in a steamy jungle. When we poured in the fruit flies, the lizards skittered and the frogs hopped over, popped their heads or tongues and a fly disappeared instantly.

Watching this scene I had deep metaphysical insights, ok, shallow metaphysical mind wanderings. “Do these flies feel shortchanged?” They only get one day on earth, and they spend it on one blade of grass. The “lucky” travelers have their exotic vacation cut short. Do fruit flies echo the sentiments of Job, “The days (in their case day) of life are (is) short and full of trouble.” (Job 14:1)

Are the apparent injustices of fruit flies recompensed in the hereafter? Do they fly off to an eternal heaven of grass and an endless supply of rotting fruit with no frog or lizard tongues whipping out to cut their existence short? I have no answers to these cosmic questions I can only refer you to the experts, the screen writers of the Disney movie, “A Bug’s Life.”

Equally important, how does their situation relate to us? Most of us are not fruit flies although some of us exhibit their intelligence and perspective. (Some of us in Congress appear to have the perspective of fruit flies, spending money as if there were no tomorrow).

We as a species however are generally more fortunate than fruit flies. In America we live an average of 77 years (male) and 84 years (female) or 28,105 or 30,660 generations of fruit flies not factoring in leap year which they do not celebrate.

But are we happier, or merely suffering through what Shakespeare’s Hamlet calls, “the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to.” Pain, sorrow, disappointment, tragedy, boredom, staring at a blank computer screen and being able to think of nothing better to write about than fruit flies. Life can be a grind sometimes.

Here are three ways to challenge and conquer in the battle of life. Way #1, lengthen your perspective, preferably to infinity. Heaven goes on forever, so compared with that, anything including Methuselah’s 900th year birthday party is shorter than an eye blink. Hang in there through the gloom. Eternal sunshine awaits you.

Way # 2 consider C.S. Lewis’s opinion that no matter how ghastly the pain, as soon as it is over a person forgets about it. I don’t know about you, but when a toothache stops, I don’t reminisce about how it felt. So I’m guessing we won’t get nostalgic for the old days when we were miserable on earth.

Way #3: Short or long life, good or bad experience, the eternally important question will be, how did we handle this project of living. As the old Scotch saying put it, “What e’re thou art, act will thy part.”

Bonus tip, when life gets tough, look around. You can usually find somebody who has it tougher, maybe on the end of a lizard’s tongue.