Monday, July 18, 2011
Discovering a World of Light
One night I lay in bed unable to sleep, no particular reason, it seems everyone has one of those nights now and then when sleep doesn't come as easily as others. As I lay there, I noticed a little green light high on the ceiling. Smoke alarm; no big deal. Then I noticed a little red light on my husband's bureau. Again easy to explain. He'd plugged in his phone to its charger. Another little red light on the small television, illuminated dials on our alarm clocks, even his electric razer sports a tiny light. Had I wandered through the quiet house, I would have found my cell phone and camera plugged in in my office with their little lights glowing away and not far away the little light on my computer and another on the printer. In the hall I would have found the carbon dioxide alarm with it's little light and each room of the house with its smoke alarm light, tiny glowing lights on other TV's, the microwave, and other electronic equipment throughout the house. Each piece of our alarm system has its own little light as well.
I felt like laughing; when did my life become defined by tiny lights? Even as a child, I watched for a tiny bit of glowing red. From my bed I could see the stove that heated our house. When I could see a glow coming from a tiny crack where a door didn't fit as tight as it should have, I knew Daddy or my brothers had started the fire and the room was warm enough to get out of bed.
Life has changed a great deal during my life, but it's funny how we still look toward light as a signal that all is well, or to expect trouble. We need light to find our way, to carry out our daily tasks, and to enjoy beauty. Light has been defined in so many ways, many with religious overtones. Even Christ has been called the Light of the World.
There's one essential bit of light some writers (and other professionals) overlook in their lives. There's a tendency to become so obsessed with writing, getting published, the dream world created, or other aspects of the author's world that living this life is forgotten or shoved far down the priority list. That creates a hollow shell to draw on and the writer is left with little to create from reality and shallow emotions to convey in print. I know writers who shut themselves in a room or office and forbid their families to interrupt them for anything less than fire or blood. They don't enjoy the everyday give and take of family relationships; some never form enduring relationships at all. Some depend on someone else to provide their support and perform their share of the menial tasks involved in running a home while they pursue their writing. These writers cheat their families, their potential readers, and themselves. An early teacher told me the best writers and artists create their masterpieces from life; the way light focuses on an object makes all the difference in the world, the way spiritual light touches the soul reveals both what is seen and the observer.
I know writers who write with one hand while balancing a baby on their laps, writers who coach little league, writers who are PTA or Church teachers or leaders, writers who home school, writers with full time careers, writers who take time to play with their children, to garden, to travel with loved ones, and writers who take time to live life to the fullest. Their enthusiasm for life shines through their work. Their difficulties and challenges make their words richer and more meaningful, filled with the light of life. Making time to write is a challenge for most writers, but it works out far better than trying to find time for anything other than writing.