Wednesday, December 31, 2014

You Light Up My Life

"To think. To understand. It just happens to be the way I'm made. I have to write things down to feel I fully comprehend them." -Haruki Murakami

I suppose this is how I have approached blogging as well. Although there are so many jots and snippets that I've written and recorded in my writer's notebook and journals that I have not yet fully written out/comprehended. I was compelled by the topic @MuellerHolly suggested on her #spiritualjourney. I figured now was as good as time as any to pull some of the musings I'd considered about light, to work towards a better understanding.

I began my return to teaching middle school by forging into a science unit involving the phenomenon of light. One of my students was driven by the question if light was a wave or a particle. We explored how our eyes use light to interpret the world around us. We marveled at the colors within the light spectrum. One of my students shared his experiences of being red-green color blind. We read, we talked, we wondered. Light, like life, is all around us, yet profound to contemplate.

There are multiple ways, and parts of speech, by which to consider "light." The first being a noun related to "The natural agent that stimulates sight and makes things visible." In addition to energy particles involved in the phenomenon of vision, light also carries with it enLIGHTenment (understanding of what is hidden or mysterious), brighter or paler in value, to being synonymous to expert, master, or luminary. Secondly, an adjective as in less dense or "easier" to manage, carry. Gentle, delicate, not serious and free from worry. Thirdly, a verb to come upon by chance or to land upon/descend. (Merriam Webster)

When my fellow-PLN member suggested the topic of "light" I immediately thought of a song I grew up listening to You Light Up My Life .  When Debbie Boone sang this song in the late seventies her lyrics touched on some of the definitions Webster offers in relation to "light." This someone of whom she croons, enlightens her and makes her way in life lighter (in every sense of the word). Giving someone "hope to carry on," makes them feel buoyant and "lighter" while also illuminating a brighter more connected way to live.

My mind also drifted back to my philosophy days and reading Parmenides poem "On Nature" in which the ancient philosopher refers to light in a narrative, "And the axle, glowing in the socket--for it was urged round by the whirling wheels at each end--gave forth a sound as of a pipe, when the daughters of the Sun, hasting to convey me into the light, threw back their veils from off their faces and left the abode of Night" (trans. Burnet 1892). In observing the world around him, Parmenides noted many pairs of opposites, light/darkness and lightness/weighty among them. The rest of his poem offers more imperatives because life is short so seeking truth (as opposed to opinions) and what is real (as opposed to what is imagined in men's minds) becomes essential. Parmenides linear look at time and life compliments the Biblical sentiment of Psalm 144:4 NIV "They are like a breath, their days are like a fleeting shadow," and James's "Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time then vanishes." (4:14 ESV). The debate of whether or not the brevity or "light" nature of life is positive or negative has been debated throughout time. Should we, as human beings, adopt a lighthearted carefree approach to our life or a more solemn weighty approach of making the most of each opportunity because our time IS so brief? My Ruth used to have a sign on her fridge that one of her son's wrote out in school, "I shall pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do, or any kindness I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again." --Stephen Grellet

I was always moved by that statement. The profound urgency to act because time, and life, is short remains a powerful personal imperative. In this New Year of 2015 being a person who radiates light by making the most of each opportunity to be supportive, show kindness, offer encouragement is weighty in its impact, but offers lightness of soul to me as well as each person who endeavors to reach out to fellow human beings to speak "hope to carry on." I will be served a constant reminder as our school chose "SHINE" as our theme for the year. So as I reflect on personal goals and resolutions for 2015? Be the light; lighten up to be more gentle with myself and others, continue the learning journey with students to understand the mysteries of the world around us, grow to luminary status.