This post was inspired by Patricia Begley, the lovely dreamweaver who designed this site. She wrote a sweet thought on Instagram while watching the Canada Day fireworks that prompted this story from me.
The first thing to know about fireworks is that their anthem is not ‘Firework’ by Katy Perry. As a whole they prefer ‘Fireworks’ by Siouxsie and the Banshees. From a tender age young explosions-to-be are given instruction on the intricacies of color, dynamic force, combustion, and shape. Once the age of majority is reached, each firework chooses their signature color and style and from then on are immersed in flight school. A firework’s greatest ambition is to be part of a larger celebratory display and the top in every class are chosen for New Year’s Eve in Times Square, Disney theme park displays, and Fourth of July celebrations across America. And there are countless competitions, national holidays, and amusement parks known to be plum assignments besides those top tier jobs. All fireworks anticipate being a part of a group effort to mark an occasion. They study always with the thought that they are nothing without each other in the end. Each must put forth his or her best effort but alone they are merely a fizzle. Together they are an event.
Once a firework is assigned to a job they are grouped with their fellows according to visually pleasing arrays. They cooperate amongst themselves, deciding who will fly straight to the top of their group and who will veer to which side. They work out timing. And they make careful note of which groups display before and after them in the event. Nothing is left to chance. No firework gets a do-over, a second chance. All their life is built towards one single defining moment.
On the night of the event, the fireworks feel a sweep of emotions as varied as they are themselves. But no firework ever dreads the end. No firework ever wishes it were elsewhere. With a singular focus they set sights on the goal: the precise delivery of the celebratory event. When the time arrives each firework, prepped in their launcher, tail awaiting the flame, looks to their fellows above exploding into beauty and knows that this one moment is their perfect one. The golden mean.
Then comes the instant when they are set alight. Their lifetime of training kicks in and they shoot, as taught, high into the night sky. With exact precision they veer on cue, each in their designated direction. Only then, in the breath before detonation, in the heartbeat before the end, are they allowed one tiny glimpse down. What they see is an ocean of upturned human faces, bathed in red light and gold, blue light and green, eyes wide and shimmering with the reflection of a thousand explosions before, smiles affixed to every face, a beaming multitude of unified admiration, drinking in the fiery painting unfolding on the starry canvas. And that is what detonates the firework. For the swell of their heart, full of the shining faces below, cannot contain the joy and bursts outwards, exploding them into their final destiny.
Their conclusion is welcomed with gasps of awe as the ashes drift to cold earth in an unspoken eulogy for all their fellows.
- Corinne Simpson