I’ve been thinking about what lights me up. It’s usually simple things, like receiving snail mail from a friend, having a meaningful conversation with my partner, being of service, listening to a great lecture. I was walking home on a cold November night in Manhattan after attending an inspirational metaphysical talk, and I felt illuminated within. When that kind of light comes on inside, it transforms my surroundings. I felt as if I were on a moving sidewalk. It felt like a parting of the avenues just for me.
I hit Fifth Avenue with a spring in my step, knowing I had time to walk the 20 blocks to watch the lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. Still all lit up inside, I hit 48th Street—and bumped up against thousands of other light seekers who had come to a complete standstill. I got squeezed into the mass of tourists by police trying to control the crowd. I was so squashed by the crush of people that I began to panic. My light dimmed.
I missed the actual tree lighting, but I pushed my way forward. And in spite of having my hair pulled and my feet stepped on, my spirit ignited yet again.
Being a New Yorker, you get used to rapid changes in light. It’s a moody city. Still, the Rockefeller tree is a sacred ritual that I love. When I was a kid, my dad and his rigging crew put up that majestic tree every year. They would be on television, and I’d watch with pride. I felt famous. I couldn’t wait to get the branch that my dad would bring home to his five kids for show-n-tell at school. That lit me up every year.
I’m older now, but I still try to find practices and events that light me up from within when life outside gets dark. Right now my dad’s slow but steady decline weighs on me as he cares for my sick mom, and so do the struggles of my two sisters, dealing with the emotional aftermath hurricane Sandy and the impact on their homes and lives. But I’m able to look around the corner and know that no matter what, light happens. I think of that Leonard Cohen song: “Ring the bells that still can ring/ Forget your perfect offering/ There is a crack in everything/ That’s how the light gets in.”
So I still seek the light. Sometimes it comes from within—and sometimes from thousands of tiny bulbs on a tree.
Credit: A Pound of Better