light

chasing rainbows

The USA is awash in colours today. The orange, white and blue of the stars and bars put aside for a moment for some to fly the rainbow flag as the Supreme Court delivered marriage equality. Not everyone will be celebrating and I’m sure within hours or even minutes the moral panic theories will be unleashed with all sorts of dire warnings of the slippery slope into legalised paedophelia, the marrying of animals or that children will now grow up deeply confused about the meaning of life, and possibly the human race will die out from lack of procreation…think we’re ok for now on that front. I welcome this kind of hysteria as it allows for the irrationality of fear to be exposed.

Here is the curious thing. We see a very small fraction of the light spectrum and assume that what is seen represents the world and what is real and true. So while the rainbow flag symbolises diversity it also reminds us that colour can be both definitive and illusory, unifying and dividing. And some might be on the same wavelength in one spectrum of life a small shift in frequency sends understanding into an invisible realm of the unknown. In the absence of visibility the invisible becomes mysterious and prone to darker shadowy uncertainty.

When flags are no longer needed to declare or announce a separation of people then love will open its doors to unseen realms. Let there be light.

Shifty Greys Of Shade

I scowl with frustration in the mirrored lenses of my glasses that are smeared with sweat and sun tan lotion. Damp patches growing as the summer heat refuses to surrender its suffocating mask of humidity. My hair pulled back in a pony tail does little to alleviate this. Crawling under the nearest Pohutukawa the dappled light offering a temporary reprieve but my skin aches for the cool caress of a delicate breeze. The temporary disorientation gives way to annoyance as a picnic blanket occupies the private space I had hoped to accommodate. Carnal urges to kick sand all over the place are pushed aside as I move toward another tantalising dark corner of the beach. Fingers already reaching deep inside my bag to fondle the corners of my book in anticipation. I duck under the low slung branches, thick matted aerial roots like hair brush my cheek. The blazing glare behind me I take a moment to orientate myself in the strobing shadows. There it is, the solid outline of sand untouched by the blowtorch outside. The cool sand pushing between my toes and the loamy smells beckoning I need no more seduction. I throw myself onto my towel and grasp the generous mass of literary flesh that is The Luminaries and devour every word. My quiet ecstasy as the words penetrate layers of my consciousness pulling me into a void filled with imagery and mystery. I am between worlds now and letting go, surrendering to the pleasure and delight of my heart and mind no longer being caged. My lips curled in a half smile and a tear of joy moves to the corner of my eye, lashes holding it until the surface tension gives way.

My neck aches, I reach inside for something to rest my head on. There is another book that might do the trick. Fifty…

Being kept in the dark can be illuminating

I am an amateur astronomer – emphasis on amateur. I do own a telescope and make use of it on clear nights. We have spectacular views of the celestial treasures in fact they are ranked as some of the best in the world.

Many people assume that viewing a full moon through a telescope would be the ultimate. However with so much light being cast over it’s surface, the effect is to lose some of the more interesting effects of shadow which often allow other features to stand out. When searching for positive metaphors in life we often find them associated with light, illumination, shining, radiance…you get the idea. Darkness doesn’t get such a spin, and yet could be one of the most underappreciated and misunderstood concepts because of its relationship with light in polarity.

We don’t like talking about darkness or are at best limited in the ways we value what the absence of light can bring forward. In fact we over do light with most things, trying to shed more light, find the light at the end of the tunnel…etc. What if we were just to be in the blackness a moment? Our eyes are remarkable, and adjust to varying degrees of light unconsciously. At very low levels of light the eye manufactures a pigment called rhodopsin that heightens the sensitivity of the retina. It takes 20-25 minutes but the effect is to allow your eye to pick up faint light. Another peculiarity with the eye is the distribution of photosensitive nerves. The majority of colour sensitive cells – cones are in the centre of the retina. Rods are distributed away from the centre of the retina and are sensitive to all visible light – and as such lower levels of light. What this means is if trying to distinguish a faint object, not looking directly at it improves your ability to ‘see it’ as the eye activates more rods. When you get good at this technique it is amazing what you can see.

I’d like to see the absence of light explored more. We could ask questions and be more curious about what we might be missing when we stay with what is most visible, bright, that draws our attention immediately. My sense is we are flooding our experience of life with ‘lightness’ without questioning what this could be obscuring or devaluing. One outcome of this I think is our current obsession with happiness, positive thinking, and general discomfort of expressions of sadness, frustration, anger and resentment. When I think about the most significant learning or turning points in my life they have almost always come from being immersed in darkness. It wasn’t necessarily pleasant or enjoyable at the time but the time mattered. Like the iris opening – parts of our awareness, consciousness and spirituality emerge and develop strength through exposure to ‘darkness.’ I’m not a big fan of ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ but perhaps we have become too protective around life experiences where the outcomes might be less than pleasant but not necessarily life threatening.

Not all darkness means the presence of a black hole – with all the emotional gravity this implies. Perhaps we have an opportunity to rework another cosmic phenomenon. Lets go with astronomy again! Black holes invoke a sense of annihilation, being so powerful that light cannot escape. But at the event horizon remarkable, strange and incredible things happen to light – blasts of X-rays, gravitational lensing, it’s awesome!

You don’t need to know anything about the night sky to enjoy gazing up and wondering. If you need inspiration – check out this:

Sometimes I’d rather be kept in the dark. I’m all-light with that.