Things I Know 115 of 365: Fireworks are magic

Disbelief in magic can force a poor soul into believing in government and business.

– Tom Robbins

I sat in COSI working on on completing an assignment today when I heard a loud explosion. It’s really becoming something of a pattern with me. Last night, I ran a 4-mile race that started with the firing of a cannon. No countdown, mind you, just the firing of a cannon without warning.

I’ll admit it. I jumped. Then, I ran.

Tonight, I kept my seat. I was working under two deadlines. 1) COSI was closing. 2) The assignment was due.

Still, the explosions continued. I looked up for some indication of their source. Finally, I saw a reflection in the upper windows of a building across the street.


Somewhere, to the east, near the Delaware River, fireworks were being launched. It continued for 15 minutes or so. Several times, I found myself craning my neck to get a better view of the display in whoever’s bedroom or living room window I was using as a mirror.

I wanted to go outside.

The 5 year old in me was begging 30-year-old me to pack up the laptop and go watch the show.

Thirty-year-old me held firm.

“You’re no fun now that you’re old.”

“I know.”

“It’s fire…in the sky.”

“I know.”

“I hate you.”

“I know.”

In reality, 30-year-old me wanted to go outside just as much as his younger iteration. All wound up in coursework and a need for sleep, he exercised his judgement and stayed put.

When the noise subsided, I looked around at my fellow patrons. I wondered if I was alone in my battle between my selves. Surely, one of the four middle-aged couples on the double date across from me wanted to politely excuse themselves from their table to step outside to oooo and aaaaaah as we were taught to pray to the gods of magic and fire when were younger.

Instead, they all sat and talked about Rebecca Black and drank coffee as we’ve been taught to pray to the gods of small talk and caffeine now that we’re older.

I thought about it in my seat for a second and could not explain to myself how fireworks work. The same thing happens once in a while with smell. I know there’s an explanation. When it doesn’t come right away, I chalk it up to magic.

As I pondered fireworks, my brain started to put together the physics of the whole thing.

I felt 5-year-old me eyeing me with contempt, and immediately shut down my reasoning.

“You’re right,” I said, “It must be magic. And next time, I promise we’ll go outside to watch.”

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