Light. I imagine there are worse obsessions to have, but I’m becoming increasingly aware that I spend more time than I should contemplating, well, light. Sunlight, daylight, candlelight, firelight, blue-light, starlight, the list goes on. Then of course, the absence of light, darkness, shadows and here it ventures into the head-crushing territory of ‘are shadows an absence of light, or a projection of non-light?’ I’m sure many learned others would offer a scientific explanation. I’m equally sure I would not listen. Or I might give the appearance of listening, and silently, while my face and body language sent the appropriate signals, my mind would shut off from the unwanted facts and evidence and continue wondering about the magic of something I cannot touch but that touches my very being.
Am I alone in this? Do others pull their cars over on the way to some time-sensitive appointment to simply watch the shafts of sunlight coming through the trees? For years, I’ve heard myself exclaim ‘Look at how the light falls!’ while my sons grudgingly pulled their attention from whatever book or game they were using to fill the time on a car journey. ‘Look and describe it for me, I have to watch the road’. Now, they too pipe up unprompted ‘Mum, you are missing the most beautiful sunset,’ or ‘wow, the clouds are making shadows on the fields’ or ‘look, the whole lake is changing colour in the sunset’. I am not sorry. I hope they continue to share in my light addiction, if only in the moments when Minecraft is not the true meaning of life.
I’m supposed to be working on a story today, but as usual, the sun shifted around the roof and flooded the room from a different angle. We live in an attic space with windows on all sides. Today, the low winter sun picked out a vase of flowers on the coffee table. The shiny black surface transformed immediately into a mirror, complete with dust and little fingerprints, evidence that life is being lived. The tulips, a cheery pink bought to bring some much-needed brightness into a week filled with grief and goodbyes, were flooded, spot-lit, back-lit. They glowed. Illuminated. Not just the actual flowers, but also their reflection in the table-top. They shone the exact colour of a birthday cake I received some thirty years ago and have ever since associated with pure, unadulterated joy. My birthday went unmarked last week. Today, the Universe sent me a cake-coloured reminder to smile. Lit like a candle I couldn’t ignore.