I’m fascinated by the way fireworks fire (no pun intended) the imagination of those who see it. Invented by the Chinese in the 12th Century, they were first used to scare away the evil spirits believed to roam the world, the fears that men kept in their hearts.

Fireworks remind me of the bright, sleepless nights filled with the clanging of cans and the banging of pots, the unexpected bang and that twang that rings in your ears that follows. I remember holding a sparkler very cautiously when I was about seven, and I remember my nephews and nieces holding them atop a building of the only city where fireworks aren’t allowed. It evokes the smell of burning smoke that irritates your eyes, the sweet aroma of sticky dishes and the buttery taste of saltines on the beginnings of the seventeen New Years I’ve lived and loved.

In order to ignite the senses and put a spark into the imagination, a firework must be made perfectly. It starts its life as soon as its components are delivered into a fireworks factory and assembled carefully by pyrotechnicians into the small packages we know, which pack a big blow. From there, they’re sold, and their shining moment begins- and ends abruptly. As the fuse burns and some cover their ears and try to hide their anxiety with laughter, the firework ascends into the heavens, and at its zenith, explodes into a flurry of colors and radiant sounds. Amidst the cheers and revelry, it is forgotten.

Fireworks always make me think of one thing: the temporality of systems in the world. Just like a little firework, an individual, a family, a people, a nation is born, lighted by a fire, explodes into prosperity, and wanes into history. The reign of greed has begun within us. Friends and families are united, and then, divided in an instant. Thus an individual, a family, a people, a nation, is born, and then forgotten-

Or not.

The story of a little firework does not end with its dying into nothingness. For out of the thousands of pairs of eyes that see it, one little child with become an adult, one adult will become a parent, one jaded pair of eyes will learn to accept life, one hopeless person will be filled with courage, and maybe, even one writer with writer’s block will be inspired to write a tribute to the millions of awe-inspiring fireworks that light up the darkness without, and within each one of us.

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