Driven to the light


On my way to work today I passed beneath the walkway between the two McCormick Places which crosses above Lakeshore Drive. Inside, on the ceiling of that overpass, were red and blue lights and somehow, strangely, I was teleported back to sometime in my childhood when I had been given a small battery-operated lantern that had a white, red, and blue (green?) light. I remember each night I would make a tent under my covers and play with the lights. If I remember correctly there was a sliding switch that had three stops, each regulating one of the bulbs situated at the base of the lantern, and a fourth stop which turned it off. I am pretty sure this was all before my sister was born so I must have been younger than 4 or 5. I was endlessly fascinated with the light. In my “tent” I would sometimes look through books (read?) or just play with the colors, watching how the colored lights transformed the reality of my vision. I still can feel how the glow of the red felt like the air had substance, was a visceral substance. I also remember my mother coming into my bedroom and threatening to take the lantern away if I didn’t go to bed. I would quickly turn it off and then wait patiently for her to go to sleep, making sure periodically that the edges of my tent (covers) were all securely laying on the bed so she wouldn’t see any light seep through.

It’s a puzzlement to me why this memory hit me this morning. Right after going under the walkway, the red ball of the sun had just appeared wholly above the horizon and synchronistically underscored the memory of that old lantern.

Compelled like moths, we are drawn– yes, even driven– to the light. Even when it’s light years away.

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