Thursday, January 21, 2016

Light in the Dark

Our plans for yesterday were cancelled.  Instead of running out into town with Ronan and his therapist, we stayed home.  I like stay-at-home days.  Ronan gets to sleep in, and I get to try to catch up on life.  Sometimes, I see the light at the end of the tunnel and actually catch up. 

With hours and hours of quiet time ahead of me, I made a new plan:  clean up the office.  Things were going well, but midway through the sorting and cleaning and filing I was doing, I reached for a binder.  It's a binder full of papers, none of which need my immediate attention.  I knew I should have saved thumbing through the binder for later.  But I didn't.  

As has happened before when I look through at those papers, a flood of memories wash over me.  The binder is home to my college papers.  It's full of dreams, memories, and moments in time that happened long, long ago.  

When I see that binder full of my work, I spend at least an hour looking through it.  I go through page after page after page of my old notes and my formal papers.  I didn't save all of my reports, but the ones I did save are ones that I must have been proud to write.  

I laugh when I think about my writing class when I see the papers I wrote for that class--I received so many low marks!  And that wasn't because I didn't try.  I tried so hard in that class, but even some of my rewrites failed to get higher than a C+.  Thank goodness those low marks didn't deter me from writing.  

Writing is therapeutic for me.  I know that it is for a lot of other people, too.  So, for no other reason than to share an assignment that has an element of creative writing that I did w-a-y back in the 90s, here's that short paper that I wrote for an English class.  (And as usual, when I find and old piece that I want to share, I've edited it a tad.)  

I don't remember the class or writing the paper or reading the book that I referenced, but I liked the imagery of the piece.  

I hope you'll like it too.   

-- 

Untitled English paper, written in the Spring of 1991

"And at last, in its curved and imperceptible fall, the sun sank low, and from glowing white changed to a dull red without rays and without heat, as if about to go out suddenly, stricken to death by the touch of that gloom brooding over a crow of men." (page 212 of Great Short Works of Joseph Conrad, 1967).

As I walked around campus at sunset recently, I noticed shades of different colors being cast by the sun onto the buildings, trees and walkways.  I enjoyed seeing the slow but drastic change that befell the near-quiet campus.  As the sun slowly dropped out of sight, I felt a sense of tranquility as I continued my walk.  

While the sun continued its slumber, I noticed a complete change in my attitude toward the academic buildings that I study in during the brightness of the busy school day.   During the day, the sunlight mirrors the activity I see:  flowers opening to welcome a new day, cars rushing down the street, people hurrying to class.  The sun brought new birth and energy to a place that had been asleep during its absence.  But now, at night, with the moon providing the only natural source of light, the campus was less hurried, less busy and much less awake.  

Bathed in luminous, soft light, I enjoyed the silhouettes of familiar surroundings.  I did not have to work hard now but could enjoy the beauty of the school that I overlook while I rush from one class to the next.  Night slowed me down and opened my mind to new views.  However, the transition from light to dark aroused and heightened another awareness, that of being alone and at the mercy of whatever lay hidden in the darkened shadows. 
A sketch done by my son
Unlike during the day when I am surrounded by other students, I made sure of where I was, of who was near me and of how many street lamps lay ahead of me.  Because I am always on campus during the day and rarely at night, I took for granted the security that I feel from the sunlight that shines on me during the day.  

With "the touch of that gloom", night not only swallowed the sunlight but also the protection it provides during the day.  Despite my fear of the dark, the setting of the sun introduced the mysteries of the night.  I had the chance to greet the stars.

The darker the night became, the more stars I saw enter the sky.  For a moment, I forgot my fear and found the night to be crisp and beautiful.  While reveling in the quiet that surrounded me, I began to feel more comfortable with the darkness.  I felt something else, too.  I felt small. 

Thinking about the vastness of the universe, a universe I hardly know, made me realize how much I have yet to experience.  I finished my walk around campus feeling small compared to the open sky and yet I somehow felt alive.   Unlike Conrad's "gloom", my evening's walk wasn't filled with a mysterious, darkness of the night; it was actually rather pleasant. 

--

So, it's not really earth shattering but more of a glimpse of what was going through my mind while taking a stroll on campus one evening many, many years ago.  I have a few other papers that I saved that I've wanted to share here.  I mentioned them in a post on FB once: 

Very interesting.  I found a stack of papers I wrote in college.  I don't remember writing them.  

The topics:  autism, the lottery, optic nerve death and a book review about the story of a mom of a special needs boy who had quite the journey building a team of professionals for her son because they finally listened and agreed with her.  

Funny how those topics eerily parallel some of my life's journey.  Except for the lottery so far...gotta win that sometime soon to support my habit and to continue to provide Ronan and his amazing sibs what they need.  

Interesting indeed!  And ha ha to whatever "habit" I was talking about.  The only habit I had then and still have now is ignoring piles of papers that need to be filed.  Those papers will get put away soon.  I promise...maybe after I do a little bit of writing.  

xo, Cat

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