The Very Short Life of a Tiny Fly
She lived for only one day, but that one so fully that
just one additional day to live would have been her greatest happiness!
Why are we sometimes in a mood of seeing our lives as dull and of little value and of not expecting much joy in our lives anymore? We withdraw from everything, as if ready to pass away at any moment, or we ponder all we have already lost in life or will soon lose. At other times, our life may pass in an internal emptiness or dullness. Nothing seems to have meaning or significance for us when we are in those moods—the most superficial entertainments or routines fill our days. Why do we abandon the fullness that our life could still have? Fulfill every day! Life can be so wonderful, even if only for a few moments here and there.
When I walk through our garden in summer, I sometimes encounter some tiny flies, often dancing around in the sun in a dynamic whirl. A zoologist friend told me that they live for only one day. This is the story that occurred to me when I heard that.
A wonderful summer morning dawned. From under a great apple tree behind a farmhouse, out of abandoned fruit from last year, arose a tiny fruit fly. It stretched its new wings and flew up to a high branch of the tree. For the first time, this tiny fly observed the brilliance and beauty of a sunny morning. What a wonder it was to be alive!
There were many leaves on the tree all around the little fly. Have you ever stopped to marvel at a small group of leaves on a large tree? Did you ever consider breaking off just one of those small twigs with only a few leaves on it? Did you ever put such a twig in a vase and marvel at it, as at a work of great art? You could paint a picture of this twig or take a photograph of it. Such a picture might be selected for a prize. But think about it! That tree was full of such twigs—thousands of small bunches of artistically arranged leaves—and you had never before noticed them. How wonderful is our world, if only we have eyes for it and take time to look out for its wonders. It takes just a little moment of our time, which we sometimes have too much of, just a little of the time that is still left for us in this world, just a small part of this day, to possibly let it become a truly fulfilled day in our lives.
The sun began to shine brightly, and the air felt warm. The little fly flew over to the yard behind the farmhouse. How nice it was to be able to move around from one place to an entirely different one, just as you want—to always see something new and find new experiences. Did you ever intensely enjoy moving around, even just to another room, to walk just once around the block, to drive just for a quarter of an hour to nowhere, or to travel?
The little fly noticed that some clouds had appeared in the sky. Some of them looked like little round pillows. In between, there were some stretched clouds that looked as if they had been placed there by a swift stroke of a brush. Who had painted them so nicely? The clouds changed appearance as time went by. How many clouds may have sailed away over your head during your lifetime? And how many of those did you actually perceive and enjoy? An old lady lived all alone, but she had a harmonic inner disposition. She told everybody that she observed the clouds all day long, every day. That was an ever new experience for her, the dramatic change and art of nature, and that alone let her enjoy her life.
The tiny fly observed all the agricultural equipment in back of the farmhouse. What a different world that was! Every detail of those machines had been designed with great intelligence to serve the farmer in support of his family in an often difficult world. Those machines and their supporting industry permit all of us to live more or less comfortably.
How interesting would it be to understand just a little more of the mental content of all technology or, more so, of the sciences, which help us actually comprehend nature and the whole universe we live in. After all, be aware that we exist in an intellectually understandable world. Don’t always read only the newspaper and entertaining novels! Take some time to understand the sciences, to understand the world on which we have the great opportunity to live for a while, even if this requires more effort.
The morning had almost passed and the time came for our tiny fly to join its peer group. After all, we don’t live alone in this world. But we must show initiative to join and be received by others. That’s why our little fly rose up and soon encountered a whole swarm of its own kind over a small bush in the farmer’s garden. There, the flies flew around, by the hundreds or by the thousands, in many circles, forming a wildly circulating column—so many tiny specks of light in the brightness of the summer sun.
Their dance got ever wilder and became an exciting experience for our fly—to meet so many others, to be part of that group. Was this the meaning of life: to be dedicated to the group, to the community? Nature compensates us for our commitment to others with emotions of warmth and joy. How mysterious are all those emotions that give value to our lives.
A swallow swooped right into the middle of the swarm. Afterwards, some of the little flies were missing. Did the swallow just gulp them down? How dark this world could be. One of the tiny flies had a wing torn off! Our little fly flew down to it and recognized one of her sisters from waking that morning under the old fruit tree. She remained for a long time to comfort her. She even brought her a droplet of water. Was helping the deepest purpose of living in a swarm? Was it this help that provided the deepest fulfillment?
But then she was drawn back to her partners, especially one whom she had met just before in the swarm. She experienced that very special happiness of being united with a partner in life. If she had not returned to the swarm, she could not have found him. Had she looked for the perfect and ideal partner, she could not have found him. But if both were ready to accept the other as they were, then, as long as they both were striving toward the light, they could rise together.
By now, it had turned late afternoon. The sun began to sink in the sky. At this time, it became important to care for offspring, for those that should emerge next year. She had to find and prepare a good place for them. Our little fly searched for quite some time to find the ideal place for all her little eggs where there was not too much competition from the others yet. She needed a place that would protect her offspring from the scavenging birds, but where the rays of the sun would still reach and where there was enough food for their first phase in life as larvae. What don’t all parents do for their offspring and, in doing so, find their own happiness, even knowing that, most likely, they will not participate in their offspring’s happiness later on!
Evening arrived. Our tiny fly became tired. Flying around was no longer easy. All the other flies had retreated into their hideaways, one by one. Should she just sit and complain? No, she flew once more into the farmer’s garden to the nicest bush she had ever seen. Then she flew back up to the fruit tree from whence she had come and sat down on a high branch under a protecting leaf.
From there, she looked out onto the great, wide world. But, as time went by, it was less and less the view of the large world that gave her joy, especially since it was becoming less visible in the increasing darkness. But close by, there was still much beauty to see until her horizon contracted and she could now perceive only the wonderful group of leaves closest to her.
Finally, total darkness arrived. The eyes of our tiny fly closed.
What a wonderful and fulfilled day this was, she thought as she fell asleep. Oh, if I could have just one more day of life like this one. How I would try to fulfill that one too!
I wish for a wonderful day tomorrow for you and me. And, after that, I wish us many more—seven days in every week that may be given to you or me, 365 days in only one year.
But next time you walk through a garden and happen to see one of those tiny flies, salute her with a smile and leave her in peace as she pursues the business of her short life. Wish for a fulfilled day—for her and for yourself.