We pulled a Cher last week and turned back time. For those of us in the northern hemisphere this means that the sun now begins to set shortly after our morning coffee break and is completely dark by the time we head out the door and make our way home in the afternoon.
And it’s not just dark. It’s cold. And during the days it’s gray and kind of barren and stark. Would I say ugly? No that would be harsh. But it’s not pretty.
Welcome to pre-winter in Canada. Too early for those snow drenched blue sky ski days and too late for those brilliant coloured fall leaf walks in the woods.
As light recedes and long months of gloom loom you might wonder how we find reason to get dressed in layers upon layers of warm clothing and head out the door?
For me the answer is simple. I find the light smack dab in the middle of the stage. A few years ago I jumped back into my youthful obsession with theatre and began working with the local community putting on plays. Directing plays gives me a reason to leave my house when otherwise I would be inclined to hibernate. It’s amazing how little time it takes standing on a bare stage with just the work lights overhead to begin to feel the warmth.
But things really get amazing when the spotlight is turned on. Working at a theater I get to see people traipsing through the door in their winter boots and coats, searching out that warmth and light. They nestle together in the audience and as soon as the lights come up and the entertainment begins you can feel a collective sigh of relief going through the crowd. So what if it’s dark outside? It doesn’t matter when there is such a bright and warm light shining on that stage.
This is nothing new. Ever since early humans discovered fire, we’ve sat around it and stared at it and allowed it to stave off the dark and cold. And it must not have taken very long of sitting around a fire for someone to begin telling a story, or singing a song, or pounding out a rhythm with sticks. Creating stories with our imagination and sharing them through performance is one of the things that makes us uniquely human. Summertime is for having adventures during the long daylight hours. Winter time is for snuggling together and looking at the light and hearing about those adventures.
Not much has changed in that regard, at least not for me. I rail against the dying of the light in the fall and count the days until winter solstice so that I know the light will begin to return, inch by inch. In the meantime I use every excuse I can get to be near or on the stage and feel the warmth of the spotlight. The stories, the music, dance… They are all just a bonus to be enjoyed.
Whatever it takes to bring light and meaning into life, it is worth the effort. Sitting in an audience and watching a movie or a live performance for a couple of hours steals the power of the darkness outside and energizes like a shot of pure sunlight.
I am a sucker for light. After all, without it how am I expected to bloom and grow?