Lessons From Fluorescents

“It’s not just another dream, another play, another scene.  Shifting sand beneath my feet, ever moving, oh-so deep.  Walking in the light.  No fear of the night.  Walking in the light…” – (1984) Walking In The Light.  Written & recorded by:  Cliff Richard

Let me know if this happens to you.  Knowing myself, as I do, it wouldn’t surprise me if I’m alone on this.  I will give it to you exactly the way it occurred without embellishments.  Here goes.

A little over a year ago, I’m getting ready to slice up some onions and peppers at the cutting board in our kitchen.  The sun was fading fast, so I turned on the overhead double fluorescent from the switch on the wall.  Lo and behold, one bulb was out and the other was half-light, as it flickered at me like a winking eye saying, “Yep, it’s almost time to grab the ladder.”  Do light bulbs mock us when we aren’t looking?  Most pro-active residents might have grabbed the new fluorescent bulbs, waiting in storage, right then and there, but no…not me.  I hate this about myself.  My decision led to a couple of months of brown-out flickering from our kitchen ceiling.  It nagged at me each and every time I flipped the switch while nursing absent-mindedness.

I came to realize, after a great while, fluorescent bulbs are not just full of gas, but also full of grace (unearned favor).  If the struggling half-lit bulb were a person, that soul would be a very understanding, generous, most enduring individual.  Each time I flipped the switch it gently reminded me I needed to replace it, unlike the regular light bulb, or flashlight, that loves to surprise you in the middle of the night.  Not too long afterward, the struggling bulb gave up the ghost.  At first it was tough to adjust to the darker kitchen.  Nevertheless, we learned to rely on a sun-filled window and three lamps in the kitchen instead.  How silly of me to ignore the changing of the fluorescent guards hovering over us.  One of our lamps is in the hood-vent over the stove.  Another sits in our window overlooking the sink.

Lamp Kitchen Window

The other sits in the corner of our coffee bar.  When all three are on, it may be dim, but it’s enough…temporarily.

Lamp Coffee Bar

Last December, my step-son was over to help ready some holiday food for a family Christmas gathering at our house.  The funniest thing happened.  I walked around the corner to enter the kitchen, as he is working like a chef at a bistro, only to see the fluorescent bulbs above were on at full strength.  Not even a flicker.  It was shocking.  I asked how he got them to work.  My mind assumed he had hopped up on the counter and did some good old-fashioned bulb jiggling.  He just said he turned them on, then inquired why I asked.  Go figure.  As you can imagine, the next morning, they were dead again.  He must have the magic touch.

Fast forward to this month.  My get-up-and-get-it-done-button was pushed.  I took the cover off, took the bulbs out, bought replacements and attempted to change them out.  Alas, I had trouble with installment.  (A longer story there.)  Ironically, the same step-son was over at our house recently while I was busy writing to you from my computer in the studio/study.  The next time I walked into the kitchen, LIGHT EVERYWHERE!  He figured out the issues, popped them in without a hitch.  Honestly, I had forgotten how wonderful it was to have our fluorescent bulbs illuminating the kitchen once again.  The first thing noticed was how badly things needed to be cleaned.  That’s the problem with light, it shows the dirt around you, even in the tiniest corners.

I guess I’m getting old.  In April, I took my wife to my favorite restaurant for our wedding anniversary.  Honestly, the dining room lighting was so dimly lit, I had to use the little light on my phone to read the menu.  With silverware you get flashlight?  How long does it take for the eyes to adjust?  Any chef is disabled without excellent lighting.  Any artists with brush, pencil or ink knows the urgency of the spectrum of light.  Any photographer always checks the shutter speed when light is given.  Any farmer survives off the rays needed to grow crops.  Any long-distance trucker depends upon the multiple of lights coming off the truck, especially fog lights when necessary.  Light is not a throw-away item, although it seems so at times.  It all depends on who you speak to or how slowly the anti-light seduction goes.  You might find you ordered a salad but you got Bananas Foster instead.

Allow me to be blatantly honest.  It’s been about three weeks since we got our lights back up in the kitchen.  More than a couple of times per day, I continue to walk-in forgetting I have the fluorescents above available to me.  There’s nothing like a sharp blade, an onion and unprotected fingers in a darkened room.  It’s amazing what you can get accustomed to when you allow your eyes to squint.

Woods at night

Can you spot a time in your life when this has played out?  You’re going along with your core beliefs, your faith, your center, that part of yourself which can indicate a dark place in life, when suddenly you are awakened to how much darker things have become.  Sure, it could be a geographical location, but mainly a shady area in thought-life, actions, language, or input where the dwindling flame only flickers.  The flickering continues as it warns of darkness creeping into a lifestyle.  At first, the fade away from light isn’t usually noticeable.  Do you recall when you felt you were slugging through a shadowy haze while in only a brown-out, a partial light around your steps where once brilliance resided?

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” – Psalms 119:105  (Aramaic Bible In English)

If you’re like me, the less illumination there is, the more your eyes adjust away from the full wash of light.  During those days, years, or decades, we can walk in darkness and not even realize it anymore.  It reminds me of captain’s logs from lost ships documenting the joyous release which poured over the crew when the piercing glow of a distant lighthouse, or a lit harbor was spotted.  “Land-Ho!”  (It’s fascinating to learn the old English word “Ho” was a representation, or imitation of laughter.)  Many times historical sailors were so used to the darkened deep and black velvet skies, seeing sudden light hurt their eyes.

Lighthouse Final Take

Painting:  Michelle, my wife.

Sometimes, all it takes is getting rid of the old, the moldy-old, that our nature has adjusted to, and plug-in a fully illuminated replacement.  When you do, be warned, the dirt will show up.  Contrary to popular thought, there’s only One who permanently cleanses.

Often when the flickering light alerts me, I have found to be running low on fuel for the race.

“The people who walk in darkness Will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them.” – Isaiah 9:2 (NAS)   “In Him was the life, and the life was the light of men (humankind).  And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” – John 1:4-5 (NKJV)






2 Replies to “Lessons From Fluorescents”

  1. Great analogy! And yes, we can get far too used to the darkness and stop noticing all the ugliness is hides. When the light finally shines, we see everything so much more clearly.
    PS: My daughter is the opposite of your son-in-law. Wherever she goes, lights burn out! She is always changing the light bulbs in her house…..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha, like your daughter, dead bulbs follow me around. By the way, I got in lite-trouble for mentioning the areas of the kitchen that needed cleaning once the bulbs returned. But, after she read where I was going with that, she forgave me. The things we do for blogs. Cheers to you and yours.

      Liked by 1 person

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