Near where I used to live was a small pond, maybe an acre at most. I liked to visit the pond every now and then because some of the neighborhood eagles would hang out there; plus, there were red-winged blackbirds who had the gall to try to chase the eagles from the prime perches. And there were salamanders, and dragonflies. And mayflies.

The mayflies would spend almost all of their lives as larvae and nymphs under water, and then hatch in large swarms, clouds, when the time was right. They’d fill the air and cling to everything. They’d mate, lay their eggs in the water, and die on the water’s surface. All in one day.

I used to wonder about them: did they sense how short their airborne lives were, did they have any sense of continuity with the rest of their lives spent in the pond as larvae and nymphs? Did their short, day-long airborne lives seem as long and full to them as our lives do for us? Are our lives in reality as short as the mayflies’, and is it only our internal persistence of memory and duration that fills our lives out into something more?

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