From the Cicada’s Perspective (Again With the Cicadas!)

Having a perspective is one of the things that generally sets us apart from inanimate objects (putting aside some inanimate objects like radio telescopes). A cicada has a perspective too, although it’s presumably not quite as nuanced as ours.

From our perspective, it can seem rather sad that these living things are stuck underground for 17 years, only to spend a few days or a few weeks in the open air before dying. It doesn’t seem like much of a life.

On the other hand, if we were to go very far out on a limb and attribute emotions and conscious reflection to these little creatures, we might suppose that they are perfectly happy living underground, away from birds and car tires, resting comfortably in the dark, taking sustenance from tree roots.

The years go by and one day they have to leave their homes, exposing themselves to all kinds of strange goings on, climbing trees, going through metamorphosis, flying around, making so much noise looking for a mate. What a pain! Can’t I stay down here for another decade or so?

Or maybe they feel suddenly liberated? Having been imprisoned in the earth, serving what amounts to a life sentence, they finally get to leave their jails, have some fun if they’re lucky and then call it a day. What a relief! I’m glad that’s over. I’ve done my bit and now it’s time to shuffle off this mortal coil.

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