I should start by saying that I love light.
There is nothing that rivals the hot ROY colors gathering at civil twilight. Or the woods at dawn, sun filtering light through the trees. Then there is the soft glow of Himalayan salt lamps and the eerie light of a screen in the dark. There are Christmas tree lights and night lights, headlamps and lanterns. Even in our gas fireplace, there is the blue light that surrounds the flames behind the glass.
I love the reflection of light too.
I love old lamps with tinted shades and I really, really love candlelight. I love the way sunlight pours through a window in the middle of the day catching just the edge of a glass vase and bouncing new light into the negative space. I even love the particles of dust that linger in the air like tiny points of illumination.
I love dawn and dusk and alpenglow. I love the white-hot flames of a campfire. I love the colors that dance in the sky after the rain and the way the sky stays bright behind the clouds. I love opening the moonroof in my car while I’m driving in the wee hours of morning and being covered in starlight. I love walking through the woods, headlamp off, with only moonlight as a guide. I love falling asleep in the passenger seat with light racing past outside, sending flashes of white beneath my eyelids.
I could watch burning embers for hours. How the lava-like light is alive and the movement is fluid against all that is tinder. I am in love with soft light that pools like water. I love luminaries and the Northern Lights.
I love the green flourescent proteins that create bioluminescence in jelly fish. I love fireflies. I love when someone who loves you meets your gaze. That kind of light. The light that seems to shine from within. I love the soft warm light that spills into a room. Ambient light.
I seem to love all kinds of light.
Well, maybe not “all” kinds of light.
I loathe the new LED headlights.
In our house, lighting might be one of the most frequent disagreements we have. K likes it bright. She has replaced bulbs in places like bathrooms, kitchen and dining room with the new, obnoxious LED’s. It feels like an assault on my senses. Like a runway. Or an interrogation.
I step into the bathroom some mornings and before I walk out I realize I don’t like myself much. I’ve been staring at every imperfection, every wrinkle, every blemish. I don’t want that kind of clarity. I want my aging features to be softened, not sharpened. If there is a certain benefit to be discovered by illuminating the imperfect things, I’ll take a hard pass on that knowing. Not in a denial kind of way, but rather, in a “I prefer my recognition of it to be a quiet one” kind of way.
This morning as I write this I’m thinking of my friend Dorothy. For years, on my “after work Saturday visits”, we sat in her kitchen as the light began to fade outside. Often, the light from sunset would spill in from the skylight and then before we knew it, we were sitting in the dim light with only our stories. And then, the darkness. I actually loved that.
Her loss this year has continued to send waves and ripples through my memories. I always knew she was sincere when she wanted to see me. And she always wanted to see me. She made me feel special and there is really no accurate measure of what that can mean in a life. She saw me. We shared stories. We both felt listened to. Again, no measure. That kind of attention is a gift we don’t give to others nearly enough. I miss it more than I can really say.
I’ve been thinking a lot about her lately. As Christmas Eve approaches it is clearly a season of change. For many years, our Christmas Eve always included a visit with Dorothy. Sometimes just burgers and a chocolate shake. She opened gifts and was always gracious.
This year, there is a gaping hole in everything.
What should we do ? How can we celebrate ? We’ve been trying to decide how to begin a new tradition. Sometimes after visiting with Dorothy we would drive to the Pike Place Market and walk Yoda through the empty stalls. The tree near Pike Place Fish was lit up and the city lights gave it a festive glow. The city has a different feel these days so that option looks a little different too. Desperation has replaced a warm sense of community. Whereas sadness is about acknowledging negative space, desperation is the panic to fill it.
Tradition is important. I don’t want to take it lightly that this particular one is changing. There will be some sadness this year. I know this isn’t our forever. We will create something meaningful as a way to mark this extraordinary year and we will find some joy. Don’t even get me started on Christmas Day …
What are your traditions ? Have things changed significantly this year ? Has 2020 moved you to create something new ? I’d love to hear from you. There is still so much to celebrate in this season of light.
Ah yes. The season of light.
A Million Points of Light.
If you can’t see the light,
Be. The. Light.