My own journey towards the light is less of a straight line than an upwards spiral. I tend to lose my way frequently, like a moth drawn to a streetlight. It can take a seemingly outsized effort to pull me away from the artificial and back towards my true nature.
Hmm. That sounds nice, but I am not entirely sure what it means.
In Lighting, we professionals are often concentrating on the next big thing. Right now, the intersection of light and health is a pretty big topic, as is the internet of things. When I began my professional career, I was particularly proud of my first project that was entirely compact fluorescent or CFL. Today, I wince at the millions of dollars we spent on that transitional technology, a proverbial flash in the pan that was quickly replaced by LED. As an industry, we jump on the bandwagon, then return to Light in the lull between technology shifts. If Lighting is getting better and more energy-efficient, then this seemingly circular motion is in fact an upwards spiral, returning not to the same place but to a similar yet better place in each revolution. Technology improves our design capabilities, design improves our use of technology, and so on.
I feel the spiraling motion in my own journey, sometimes completing a figurative revolution in a single thought. I build anchors- magnets- to pull me back towards the light side of the spiral; the world and its realities draw me back to the lighting side. It goes something like this:
- Oh, I love this sunset.
- Let me try to recreate the sunset onstage.
- Wow, the sun streaming through the windows is beautiful.
- Let me capture those benefits electrically after dark.
Or, at a wider angle:
- Oh, I love light.
- Let me monetize it.
- Oops, I forgot that I love light…wow, look at that sunset!
Mine is a story with many chapters, some strikingly (even painfully) similar to previous chapters, some exciting and new. These chapters, I hope, are moving in one complete revolution of a spiral from light as a toy to lighting as a career to light as a gift.
Photo by Pete Guither
The first posts covers] light as a toy, both the subconscious effect of light on my young mind growing up under the great prairie skies and my earliest manipulations of light. It was here that I first sought to control light, to amplify the effects of music at junior high dances or to heighten a dramatic moment on stage. I was unencumbered by the need to make an income, still sheltered under my parent’s provisions, allowed to just have fun with my new toy. This is Light.
Photo by Mike Heiniger
Later I’ll explore lighting as a job, which began in high school when I received my first dollar for playing with the toy of light. From community theater to college to internship and career, I slowly meandered from one form of lighting-related income to another, seeking the best fit for my interests and for my family’s needs. I added lines to my resume like Architectural Lighting Design Associate and Assistant Professor of Lighting Design and Freelance Lighting Designer as I sought new ways to make money, sometimes leaning backwards to light as a toy and sometimes leaning forwards to light as a gift. Here I had successes yet also my first professional failures that scared me back towards “safe” places that might not truly exist. This is Lighting.
Photo by Sam Warfel
The last posts will cover the most recent phase of my journey, an unfinished group of chapters being written as I return towards light as a toy but discover much deeper meaning. This is light as a gift. This is a newly focused desire to share the gift with others, and the stumbling that comes when starting down an untrodden path. It is here, now, that I seek to pay the bills with Lighting and make the world a better place with Light. It is the ultimate professional convergence for me: teaching, writing, sharing, designing. I’m writing the next chapter right now. I am not quite sure how the story ends, but I like where it is headed.
What’s the point to sharing my experience of light as a toy, lighting as a job, and light as a gift? There may be more than one. Like many bloggers, I am writing because I enjoy writing, because writing helps clarify the thoughts that otherwise ricochet off the inside walls of my mind, because writing helps me formulate new ideas. This endeavor strangely helps me focus inwardly while reaching out. I also hope that writing helps me better understand where I have been and where I am going, that writing creates a kind of map I can follow as I continue into the uncharted territory of what’s next.
I want to share the gift of light with anyone else in the darkness, anyone who does not know what light can do, or cannot afford to hire an expert lighting consultant. While this series is of a more personal nature, it is all intended to move the conversation out of my mind and into the world, out of theoretical and into practical.
Sharing the gift is not without its own dangers. I am drawn to money and fame like the moth at the beginning of this post. I am narcissistic enough to think I am worthy of “being discovered.” I want publishers to fall out of the sky and offer my book contracts. I want thousands of people to hire me (not all at once, please?) to help them get more out of light. I want to be less of a lighting consultant and more of a lighting evangelist, or Light Coach.
Hmm. Light Coach. I just made that up, and I can see it on a new business card. I imagine a dinner party and my newfound acquaintance asking with a quizzical expression, “…a light coach??”
Okay team. Let’s get out there and win this.