FINDING THE GIFT #1: Introduction

Introducing three new blog series has gone on so long that I feel the year will be over before I get to write much helpful content. We’ll see if I have the patience to stick this out, or if I end up reverting to more practical discussions….

As I push within shouting distance of fifty years on this planet, I am increasingly arrogant…and humble. I have acquired a certain body of knowledge, amassed a collection of experiences, and developed a respectable level of skill in my areas of interest. It is from this self-assured place that I begin a new series that chronicles my relationship with light.

Yet as my knowledge of select areas increases, my awareness of my own limitations keeps pace. As I tossed around a few ideas for this series, that growing humility kept redirecting me.

I thought I could write about the advent of electric light and its effects on us, but Jane Brox did so with more knowledge and eloquence than I ever could in Brilliant. I considered sharing how darkness itself is threatened by our obsession with electric light, but Paul Bogard has gone far beyond my ability to research and write in The End of Night.

I could lay out a case for light’s critical impact on our health and wellbeing, but I could never come close to the research conducted by Dr. Mariana Figueiro and Dr. Mark Rea of The Light and Health Research Center. On the opposite end of the literary spectrum, I might write a fictional novel rooted in my understanding of light, but I lack the talent and skill to pen anything as entertaining as Last Days of Night by Graham Moore.

Enough humility. Let’s get back to the arrogant stuff before I get too humble.

Another benefit of age and navel-gazing is a growing understanding of what gifts I possess, increasingly differentiated from the gifts I wish I possessed. This series will explore how I came to be here, now, with this unique set of assets and liabilities, with the hope that some small kernel of usefulness will be found for you in your own relationship with light.

Mostly, this series will march towards the self-realization that my real skill is putting things together and make them useful. 

Looking back, I can see this gift at a young age, though I am just now finding the words to express it clearly. I grew up on one of those disappearing family farms, steeped in bucolic tradition but increasingly eclipsed by commercial agriculture of a corporate scale. Back when I was a child, I had plenty of time to roam about and play. 

I remember finding a pile of seemingly abandoned clay tile blocks, perhaps precursors to the ubiquitous concrete block, and a stack of sheets of tin salvaged from a dismantled barn. I put them together and made a bunker, a safe place to defend the farm from whatever terror happened to arrive that weekend, when my best friend and I were conveniently available for battle.

Inside the house, the floor of my room was coated with Lego blocks, a cacophony of color and shapes that must have driven my mother mad and caused more than a few pain signals from bare feet. I put them together and built castles, fast-food restaurants, and office buildings with penthouse apartments and lower-level parking decks (yes, I did). While these structures were not particularly useful, they served a purpose and prepared me in some small way for my future career.

When it comes to writing this series, I will attempt to take a wide view of my journey and assemble the steps and missteps into something useful.

There is another gift I have just discovered. Or perhaps it is a failing, but one for which I have been able to compensate, like learning to type with toes when your hands will no longer serve. And at my age, one begins to realize that we have what we have and it is best to just make use of it. So let’s call it a gift.

I don’t look back.

This can be quite a troublesome trait, but when it comes to career and writing, it can also be quite useful. Others might call it creativity. My work personality survey called it “pioneering,” and I have come to understand that my penchant for constant movement means I make a painful amount of mistakes but I also arrive at destinations that surprise those around me almost as much as they surprise me. 

In other words, I put things together and make them useful. And then I move on and do it again, either making something even more useful or making something else entirely. I am relentless in my pursuit of the next shiny object, but just as relentless in my pursuit of helping more people.

Wow, that was a lot of rambling. Unfortunately for you- anyone who has read this far- I can get wordy. But I think I just learned something about myself that I could not have enumerated when I began the post a half hour ago.

Here’s what to expect in this series ahead:

  1. Light as a Birthright/I am Fortunate: Reflections on the beginning of my relationship with natural light.
  2. Light as a Toy/I am an Enthusiast: A look back at DJ’ing, theater, and more.
  3. Light as a Tool/I am a Lighting Professional: Tales of getting started in a lighting career.
  4. Light as a Process/I am an Educator: Exploration of my lifelong passion for teaching.
  5. Light as an Escape/I am an Entrepreneur: A visit to midlife crisis and light as an exit plan.
  6. Light as a Gift/I am a Human: Rediscovering natural light and its effects on our bodies and minds.
  7. Light as a Ride/I am a Pioneer: Missteps and big steps when I repurposed my professional life.
  8. Light as a Message/I am an Evangelist: Attempts to share the gift of light with others.
  9. Light as a Birthright/I am Human 2: What happens next?

I honestly do not know whether this series will be useful or inspiring to anyone else, whether it will sputter and die out as my willingness or interest in self-examination wanes, or backfire completely and end up causing me to question more than I can answer.

So I’ll try to put things together in a way that makes them useful, and then I’ll move forward. After all, that’s what I do.

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