We wrote names of lost loves , dead friends and parents, quotes and thoughts on the lanterns. We drew ornate designs or childish hearts and trees on them. We cried over these thoughts and memories, staining the paper lanterns with tears.
Then we lit the little fire and launched a piece of ourselves into the night. We watched our lantern join thousands of others in a surreal display. We felt joy and wonder.
None of us knew what thoughts flew with the thousands of lanterns. What prayers, hopes, dreams and memories lit their spark. We didn’t know and it didn’t matter. What mattered was lighting the night. What mattered was the shared joy of making magic.
And we could see, all the while, those same lanterns that we had poured a piece of our souls into, falling back to earth. Dark, cold, trash to be collected. But god what beauty when they fly.
All the while more lanterns are being lit and launched. Over time they dwindled to only a few, to one last lantern of the night.
And that is the most beautiful part of the lantern festival. We know, every one of us, that the lantern is but a brief flicker, the light but a blink. We know this and do it anyway. Because the lantern festival is art. It is humanity in microcosm. It is the past, the future, and the eternal now.
Our lives, our children and our ideas, our hopes, dreams, and machinations are lanterns we laugh and cry over, then launch into the night. We, and they, will burn bright, then fade and fall. But god, what beauty when we fly.
This is your life. You don’t get another. Even if you are reincarnated or go to some afterlife or another, that being is not the being reading these words. The you of today has never existed before and never will again.
You can stay dark, choose to stay on the ground. You will still carry all these pains and hopes regardless. But you will carry them alone.
You have the choice to put your thoughts and hopes and dreams out there. The choice to put yourself out there. Odds are no one else will understand why you to create the particular light you create. The memories and drives, pains and hungers are yours alone. But you have the choice to light a candle in the darkness, fueled by your own soul. You have the choice to pour tears and laughter and love and heartbreak into that tiny light. You have the choice to share your light with others. Some precious, special, magical few of the others will also put a tiny piece of themselves out there as well. A burning spark to light up the night. That spark is all we have, and it only lasts a moment. But god what beauty when we fly.