If I was a Mayfly, I would be over 22,000 years old. That’s a sobering thought, isn’t it? When I think of all the things I have failed to do in my lifetime, just think how much I could have failed to achieve as an ancient insect.
My life, in reality being measured in human years, is currently in the throes of its sixty-first segment. I have carried out, to the best of my abilities, my biological imperative. I have raised my children, and they are currently raising their own. The world is a better place for having them in it.
What lies ahead for me now is confusion and dribbling; delivered-to-the-door microwaveable meals; daytime T.V., and a super-heated living room. My days of velcroed shoes and elasticated waistbands grow ever nearer.
Whatever our means of ingress, we are all destined to bob along on the flow of the Styx – although it is unlikely that the rest of us will form such a reliable, although transient, surfeit of food for the trout as our friend the Ephemeroptera. As difficult a concept as it is for me to grasp, I cannot help but feel that, for a Mayfly, eternity must seem like a very long time indeed when, even for an immortal being, it is still a lifetime. Unless boundless time, unlike this human-constructed finite time-scape in which we live, passes differently. I suppose that whilst the average human can expect to live for many thousands of times longer than the Mayfly, he/she will be dead for exactly the same amount of time e.g. forever.
Unless, of course, the Buddhists are correct. What if we do not die at all, but simply hang about for a while before coming back to Earth as something else? Who decides what, I wonder? With a planet loaded with a gazillion insects, all reincarnated from something else that has had to have a crack at something exceeding the twenty-four hour threshold, somebody has their work cut out.
And people claim to remember their previous lives, don’t they? What if their past life was as something else, would they still be able to recall? What if a kestrel was reincarnated as a mouse with the memory of what it was like to be a kestrel? Surely that would give the mouse something of an evolutionary edge, wouldn’t it? Fore-armed with the knowledge that it is probably not a great idea to widdle without restraint, out rodent friend may find that he is able to survive far beyond his allotted span. Consider a lion reincarnated as a wildebeest; an orca as a sealion; a shark as a sprat – the world could become a very different place. Imagine a human coming back as… anything really. Imagine a rhino that knows how to drive a tank; a tiger that knows how to fire a gun; a Mayfly that realises that, despite its many attractions, not mating might, all things considered, turn out to be the preferred option, longevity-wise. How big, I wonder, could a Mayfly get in twenty-two thousand years?
Actually, I have just answered my own question. A little research is, perhaps, the fastest way to destroy the thrust of an article such as this. However, the truth will out. It would appear that Mayflies, because of their limited lifespan, do not eat. They are, in fact, incapable of doing so due to ‘having no functional mouthparts’. They cannot eat. Twenty thousand years without a decent breakfast does not sound terribly appealing, does it? I get hungry if I miss my morning biscuit. Twenty thousand lifetimes without a single Hobnob – I think I’d probably just opt for Plan A and enjoy it while I could. It’s not so bad, is it? I’m guessing that, given the time available, Mayflies mate for life. They don’t have to worry about getting the kids out of the house after they finish Uni and, who knows, if they are lucky enough to be reincarnated, they might come back as a trout…
In a dog’s life
A year is really more like seven
And all too soon a canine
Will be chasing cars in doggie heaven
It seems to me
As we make our own few circles ’round the sun
We get it backwards
And our seven years go by like one
Dog Years – Rush