Once an ephemera assumed it had all the time in the world. The afternoon sun seemed hardly to have moved since the ephemera began fluttering aimlessly through a quiet wood. The shadow cast by each tree didn’t appear to have advanced an inch. And dusk, that dark stalker with a limp, must be swinging his great net miles and miles away. So little to do and so much time to fill! What a bore it could be to count the hours of a long afternoon like this one. Nothing to excite you or to promise satisfactions worth the effort required to seek them out. Besides, where would you begin if you wanted to be sure you weren’t wasting your time? What guarantee was there of not being bored even more by what lay ahead than by what you might be trying to put behind you? A dread of such tedium was what had always attracted the ephemera to theme parks, where you could rely upon others to arrange every experience in advance for you, trusting them to spare you all the annoyingly dull moments in life. Left to its own devices, it had simply never known how to create the same amount of “quality time” on its own as theme parks did. Here alone in this wood, out of others’ company, should the ephemera try by itself to make time count? Where, then, should it begin, given how many hours stretched away into the distance? Or did it matter, when you came down to it, where you began? Was every place as good for that as any other? Was the whole point of having an afternoon ahead of you not to worry about how long it would last? There might be plenty of room for small diversions and driving passions alike, the ephemera sensed, as well as untold little discoveries in between. The ephemera’s initial efforts at taking charge of its life were encouraging. Once underway, it found itself drawn in any number of directions. From afar, these might have appeared to be idle flitterings, but within the ephemera’s growing enthusiasm, they made invigorating sense. Why spend your life following a single, determined path when there were so many unexplored delights on all sides? And for every delight enjoyed, a dozen more opened themselves to the ephemera as if all had long been waiting for it to uncover their beauty. What an endless flowering of the unlooked-for this afternoon was turning out to be: meadows and glades and even deep-forest clearings bright with promise! The ephemera felt as if it could go on like this forever. But it couldn’t, of course. All the while it had followed its new-found joys wherever they might lead, the dark stalker had been limping steadily over the hill towards it, and now the whoosh of a net swung wide silenced everything else. The ephemera’s day had come to a close just when it couldn’t imagine ever tiring of the hours in it or growing jaded with the wonders each hour brought. Too little time was the reality, not too much: so little that not being thankful for every second was inexcusable. Which may explain why the ephemera had no more complaints to make about life’s slow hours when dusk softly reached through the net to enfold it.
Copyright © 2020 by Geoffrey Grosshans