Monday, December 22, 2014

Let There be Light

Conceived in darkness, and then developed in a womb which was also dark, our birth must have brought an explosion of light into our consciousness.  Come to think of it, I suppose there was a point in my life when I had no consciousness whatsoever -- another form of darkness.

Light.  What is it?  Where does it come from?  Where does it go?  What does it “want?”

"Creative Commons Tehran Sunset"
 by Hamed Saber is licensed under CC BY 2.0 
I recently read a novel where one of the subjects, an eccentric philosopher, suggested something I’ll likely never forget.  He suggested that:

“Once light, always light.  No light ever goes wasted.  It always remains “light!”
He was talking about the light we receive from the sun.  All of life on earth depends on the light received by the sun.
Life absorbs light.  

What happens to that light when life dies?

We have a wood burning stove in our home.  According to the eccentric philosopher, when I put logs of oak into the stove and watch them burn, the flames I see are the same light that the oak tree once received from the sun.  I tend to believe this is true.

The brain is locked in total darkness.  It floats in a clear liquid inside the skull, never in the light. And yet the world it constructs in the mind is full of light. It brims with color and movement. So how does the brain, which lives without a spark of light, build for us a world full of light?  Consider a single piece glowing in your family’s stove.  That chunk of coal was once a green plant, a fern or reed that lived one million years ago, or maybe two million, or maybe one hundred million. Can you imagine one hundred million years? Every summer for the whole life of that plant, its leaves caught what light they could and transformed the sun’s energy into itself. Into bark, twigs, stems. Because plants eat light, in much the way we eat food. But then the plant died and fell, probably into water, and decayed into peat, and the peat was folded inside the earth for years upon years—Open your eyes, concludes the man, and see what you can with them before they close forever,
Doerr, Anthony (2014-05-06). All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel (pp. 48-49). Scribner. Kindle Edition.

What a marvelous existence we live in.  Wonders abound everywhere.  As I drive at night during this festive time of the year and see all the lights celebrating the season, I say to myself “hmmmm, now I know where all this light came from.”  As I write this blog article, my desk lamp is reminding me of the same thing.  When I turn on my smartphone and see the lit screen -- same thing.

I do not want this last blog post of the year to sound like an advertisement.  Actually, I never want anything we do at Failsafe to sound like an advertisement.  Then again, isn’t the sun itself an “advertisement?” Doesn’t the sun draw everything to itself?  Even the plants we have on our window sills follow the sun as it makes its journey across the sky as if the sun is saying
“Follow me, or you will die.”

Our response to the unexpected, unplanned pain in our lives is akin to a plant that has been suddenly shielded from the light.  The plant desperately seeks the source it needs, and so should we when we get in trouble.  That’s been our message since 1985, when Failsafe first went into business.  Things that go wrong are not what we think.  They are the only thing capable of prying us out of the ruts of our own objectives, desires, and goals to force us to look for the light.

So yes, LET THERE BE LIGHT!  It is my hope for myself, my loved ones, and all of humanity that we “open our eyes and see what we can with them before they close forever.”

Enjoy the Season!

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Remembering Thanksgiving


Thursday, November 24th, 1960.
I was 13 years old.  My aunt, uncle and cousins were visiting for the Holiday.  Excitement was in the air.  The “male children” had to sleep in an unfinished and unheated attic to make room for adult guests.  We slept in army cots, with sleeping bags, and plotted practical jokes to play on my youngest cousin who just happened to be a girl.  What a blast!

It was morning, and the smell of bacon permeated the house.  My mother had the dining room table decorated to remind us that it was Thanksgiving Day.  My father was looking up the bus schedules to see when we could catch a ride into New York City to see the Macy’s Day Parade.

Later on in the day, after the Parade, we went to the Teaneck High School football game.  We always played our arch-rival, Hackensack, on Thanksgiving.
Then, of course, the feast!  Oh the fond memories.
I have so much to be thankful for.

I was blessed with a wonderful mother and father.  I have two great brothers.  I was exposed to the most influential elements of my life at a young age:  my Christian heritage; the Boy Scouts; and music (I played saxophone through my Junior and Senior High School years).  My parents supported me in almost every endeavor I undertook.   I felt loved.

As an adult, I continue to be blessed beyond all expectations.  I am married to a woman who led me to my Life, and who continues to do so every day.  I have been blessed with children and grandchildren who make me proud, and who continue to grow daily.  I am living in the place of my dreams -- in the mountains where nature can talk to me.  I have been blessed with a “calling” -- a “purpose in life” which I have realized few people have.

Don’t get me wrong, life has not been a bed of roses.  I have shared tragedies with my loved ones, suffer physical and emotional pain, and often wonder if I’m on the right track.  But I’ve realized that all these things have also helped me to become “who I need to be.”

Looking back, one of the most memorable Thanksgiving’s was a recent one -- one where all our children, spouses, and grandchildren came to our mountain home.  Yes it was hectic, but as we ate the Thanksgiving Feast that night, each of us expressed what we were most thankful for in the preceding year.  I remember tears -- my own and other’s -- tears of thanksgiving.
I hope this conjures up similar feelings in you.  I hope you have much to be thankful for.  I hope you have learned to be thankful even in the bad times.  
I’ll end this post by leaving you with a question to ponder.  I mean it.  Please spend some time dwelling on this question.  I have, and it’s helped me to see Life more clearly:

When you have that feeling of thankfulness that wells up within you, who do you feel like thanking?