Ever feel like your life is just one giant loop? That every day you do the same thing and it’s the exact same thing you did yesterday and chances are it’ll be the same tomorrow too? This was how Dilbert, the common brown beetle has felt since the moment he hatched. Dilbert was strange in that way, all the other common brown beetles he knew were quite content to spend their entire existence scavenging for food, nothing more, nothing less. From the moment they opened their beetle eyes to the moment they shut their beetle mouths for the night, there was one goal- find and eat as much as possible. It was maddening. Dilbert knew he was meant for much greater things, he couldn’t accept that life was only about flitting about and stuffing his face; he had dreams.
Sometimes, unable to contain his excitement, Dilbert would share these dreams with some of his fellow beetles, and in particular his best beetle buddy, Wilma. Like the day he talked about wanting to fly to another part of the forest just to see what it was like. Or the time he explained in great detail the formation of a bug ‘co-op’ which would enable several different species of foraging insects to combine their efforts and increase their food-finding efforts by at least 72%. Each time Dilbert would share one of his ‘ideas’ or ‘dreams’ he received the same reaction- blank beetle stares followed by “So Dilbert, do you got anything to eat or what?”. Wilma was a little more accepting, but not much. She was one of the best foragers in the colony and worked hard to keep her numbers up. This of course took precedence over indulging Dilbert in his well-intentioned (if not a little annoying) ideas.
Eventually, the other beetles learned it was easiest to just humor Dilbert when he talked about his big ideas and just continue with whatever they were doing. Even Wilma was growing weary of Dilbert’s crazy ideas but she still listened when the others wouldn’t. One day, Dilbert seemed especially jazzed about something as he made a beetle-line towards Wilma. “Wilma! I’ve had the best idea! The best idea, yet!” he yelled as he settled in next to where Wilma was foraging under a crumbling log. Letting out a sigh, Wilma waited for her exuberant friend to continue. Not missing a beat, Dilbert went on, “Tonight, when the moon is big and round and close to the ground, I’m going to fly really really high. I’m going to fly so high, I’m going to touch the moon!” Wilma stared in frustration. Normally, she would just nod and say something like “that’s nice, Dilbert” or “Sounds cool, Dilly” but this last idea was so ridiculous (not to mention a huge waste of time!) that it snapped her usual cool demeanor. Turning to Dilbert she poked him in the beetle chest and angrily replied, “Oh really, Dilbert? Fly to the moon? Fine… prove it! I want you to fly all the way to the moon and don’t you dare come back until you’ve got some moon dust smeared all over you!”.
Dilbert wasn’t seen again for a few days after that. Then, when Wilma spotted him a few feet away she was instantly struck by how different he looked. She couldn’t quite put her finger on it, but Dilbert just didn’t look… like Dilbert. “Dilbert! Where on earth have you been?!?” Wilma blurted out as she gave her friend a big bug hug. “Great play on words, Willy! I haven’t been on earth at all, at least not for the whole time. I did it, Wilma… I flew to the moon!” Dilbert beamed as he returned Wilma’s hug.
On the night of the full moon, after leaving Wilma in a huff, Dilbert flew to a clearing in the forest where he knew he’d have a perfect ‘launch’ site for his flight. As the moon began to rise, he crouched down and just as the edge of the moon separated from the horizon, continuing on its ascent, he blasted off- straight for it. Using all his strength and determination, Dilbert flew higher than he had ever flown before. And then, he passed out. Not accounting for the decreasing amounts of oxygen, Dilbert fell from the sky in a topsy-turvy plummet to the ground. Falling into a river, Dilbert escaped a certain death and only suffered a scraped bottom on some fool’s gold peeking out of the silt of the riverbed. Managing to drag himself out of the water, Dilbert collapsed on the shore, going in and out of consciousness for an undetermined amount of time. Coming to, Dilbert rubbed his backside, which still smarted something fierce and noticed a winking light coming from that area each time he moved his hand. Flying above the water, he looked down in his reflection and almost screaming is surprise- his entire hind-quarters was glowing! Even more impressive was that somehow, he could control it, turning it on and off in differing increments, winks, flashes, and streaks of light.
Deciding that his new luminosity could only be explained by a successful trip to the moon, Dilbert could barely contain his excitement. He immediately took to the air and raced to show Wilma and tell her all about his trip to the moon.
And that is the legend of Dilbert, the first lightning bug.
The Not So Fantastic Reality:
The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:
ONE: Tonight, as we pitched or tent and made camp for the night in the Elkmont Campgrounds in the Great Smokey Mountains we were provided with quite a show as the camp began to light up with hundreds of lightning bugs. It was incredible, and all I wanted to do was just sit and watch… so I did (one of the perks of camping, there’s no where you need to be but where you are once it gets dark). In a kind of homage to our insect friends, our fellow campers were also flashing all kinds of light around as well, fires were being built, flashlights were winking here and there, and headlights were zig-zagging as late-comers looked for a free site. It was quite the lightshow. Lightning bugs have always fascinated me and I decided to dedicate a story to them (since I will miss them greatly upon returning to the sweltering heat and humidity of Central Florida which prevents them from living there).
TWO: In addition to the all the other lights of tonight, we also were blessed with an almost-full moon that peeked through the trees and lent its light to assist me in writing this.
THREE: The name Wilma is a reference to a fireworks stand we saw on the road today: Wild Wilma’s Fireworks. Just liked the name.
Love & Squirrels.