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  • Writer's pictureTim Anderson

The Message of the Cicada

Lately I’ve been enjoying Cicada season. I know the cicadas have been singing every year, but it seems like this year is the first year I’ve ever really noticed them. Maybe it’s because life seems a little slower lately and I’ve been getting outside more. But they are so loud. One night I was on my back porch and I was actually closing my ears because they were buzzing so loud it was almost uncomfortable. 

The cicada is such an interesting bug. Depending on the type, it can spend years underground, over a decade, and then they come out, climb the trees, shed their skeletons and learn to fly. Can you imagine spending most of your life underground, thinking you know who you are or what you are capable of only to discover you’re not what you thought you were but so much more? 

Think about it. What must it feel like to be walking up a tree, start feeling a little stiff and suddenly bust out of your shell and emerge as an entirely different life form. They seem to do this in numbers. Can you imagine? “Bill, I’m feeling a little weird. Something is happening to my body…”

I’ve been thinking a lot about them a lot lately and I’m thinking maybe they are here to show us something that we need to know. Around my house, all up and down the pine trees, their exoskeletons are everywhere. Little empty bodies. The bodies are there, stuck to the trees. But the life that was in them, the life that once animated them has moved on. Not only has it moved on but it has become what is arguably something even more wonderful and amazing. 

The “new” cicada flies and sings and fills the air with its song. The old cicada, the one that hid itself for years, the one that could only crawl, is now nothing but a literal shell of itself. It’s a body whose life has left it. 

And maybe that’s the message for us. We can spend an entire lifetime hiding, from the world, from ourselves. We can think that what we have, our bodies, is who we are. We can believe that what we know and what we are able to experience is all there is to life, we may think it’s our true reality. But the cicada tells us something different. The cicada tells us that this life is temporary. It says our bodies are not who we are, they are merely containers, containers of something so much more beautiful and magnificent than we can imagine. The cicada says that the life inside of us is wonderous, harmonious, free to fly, free to sing. 

What we think we know about ourselves is only that, our thoughts. But perhaps there is something so much greater to being ourselves than our thoughts can ever imagine. Perhaps there is an amazing life waiting to burst out of these bodies we identify as ourselves. Perhaps what we think of as death is simply the birth of our true, beautiful selves. 

What if the message of the cicada is “There is more to life than this life?” Or, what if the message of the cicada is simply “Your true self is really beautiful and amazing.” 

There is more. There is beauty. There is singing. That’s what the cicada says. 

Ofcourse, I could just be crazy. The real message of the cicada could be “Don’t spend your whole life hiding behind a facade. The real you is beautiful. Bust out and let the world know you are here.” 

Either way, the cicada has my attention. 


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