I've been blogging intermittently for a few weeks now, though I haven't let many others know of this secret expression. Well, keeping something secret that's posted to the world wide web is almost silly, but I haven't broadcast even to friends that I occasionally muse about topics of interest to me.
But, lest anyone be curious as to why I named this blog "Searching for Bright Light," let me explain. On the most superficial level, it is winter in the Northwest. As a California girl who moved northward a decade ago, the most disconcerting aspect of the environmental change was not the dampness, not the overcast, not the dreary on-and-off rainfall, nor even temperatures that require me to wear full thermal underwear from October through March. No, the most disheartening environmental feature I was to discover was: darkness.
In Southern California, I always rose in the sunshine. My clock-radio would click on, awakening me before the voice of the announcer or the tones of the latest Oldie. (Which of course then was a New-ie.)
Nobody ever told me that the farther north you go, the later the sun rises, so when my first October in the Northwest arrived, and I discovered that it was very black at 7 and then 8 am, my internal clock rebelled and my usual eagerness to attack a new day deferred to a desire to remain warm under my electric blanket until the proper signal for activity--sunrise.
But this would not work, as I had to get children to school (before dawn) and plenty to do beyond that. So, I did what everyone else in the Northwest seems to have done: I bought a lightbox. A lightbox is, you see (which is what I wanted to do, after all) a metal box containing very bright florescent lights. In order to combat SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder (which I wasn't sure I had, but which I clearly didn't want to get), one sits very close to the lightbox for about a half-hour twice a day. I purchased my lightbox at the Northwest's premier lightbox emporium, the Indoor Sun Shoppe. Don't forget to pronounce that last word "Shop-ee."
The Indoor Sun Shoppe is like a grand terrarium. You step inside and feel like a chameleon slithering among all the tall tropical plants, in 85-degree heat, nearly blinded by the glare of lightboxes from every direction. You cannot be sad in such a place, because you are groping for your sunglasses and Maui Babe oil. Why do vacationers flock to warm beaches? Because there you are surrounded by bright light, bathed in negative ions, and soothed by a warmth that thaws your bones and your soul.
So, on the most obvious level, I am searching for bright light in a land where mornings are dark, rainy and cold. And as everyone knows, morning is supposed to be a metaphor for new beginnings; light is a metaphor for knowledge and insight. To be cold is to be withdrawn emotionally, frigid in every sense, hardened, unreceptive and inexpressive. To be "in the dark" is to be unaware, unenlightened. That's un-en-LIGHT-end. There is no sight without light. There is no clarity without light. And rain, in every song, is tears, sadness, negativity.
You know the familiar Jimmy Cliff lyric: "I can see clearly now, the rain is gone. I can see all obstacles in my way. Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind. It's gonna be a bright, bright sunshinin' day."
I am searching for the bright light of clarity. I am searching for the warmth of harmonious relationships, the sunshine of possibility and happiness. Bright sunshine is immediately associated with good weather, with hope and energy and optimism. And it is that upbeat, positive energy that I seek, through the light of chesed, of ma'asim tovim, of Torah, and through my own efforts to bring sincerity and significance to my world and a greater world.
My cell phone banner reads "happy sunshine!" My kitchen is painted in golden sunshine tone, with aqua and persimmon, and magnets that spell out "happy." What a joy it is to live. I am searching for bright light in a dark, dank part of the world, but the search has paid off. There is much brilliance here to be found, and much simcha and warmth that is all the more precious because of the search.
The other day, when dropping off my daughter at her college residence, I saw the first tree of the season covered with pink blossoms. I was unprepared for the sight and did not have at hand the once-a-year blessing upon viewing the first blossoms that herald spring, that proclaim increasing light. "Blessed are you, God, king of the universe, who did not withhold from his world anything, and created in it creatures that are good and trees that are good, to cause pleasure with them for the children of Man." The trees, too are searching for bright light, and at the prospect, explode with possibility. Just as I want to do as well.