Finding Light

shineAs the winter months are so close to over, I’m aware each day of the few extra minutes it stays light outside. Curtains are closed and lamps go on just a bit later every evening. The sun is warmer and everything just feels more bright.

Through the dark weeks and months of winter, I think a lot about light. How profoundly powerful a small glow can be when it radiates into utter dark. How a tiny flashlight or candle can literally sometimes save us from harm or even death.

Often when we feel surrounded by impenetrable black, we forget how to find within ourselves, even a faint bit of light. But while we breathe and think and feel anything at all; it’s always there… Twin beacons of memory and hope.

Memory is easier. Recalling moments when we truly were happy, or excited, or at peace, or felt deeply loved. Each time we do this, neurons in our brain light up like a city at night. Light inside of us, always there and just waiting to shine.

Hope is usually a more difficult thing to do when the weight of darkness pulls us down. But it’s there too, because we keep taking one breath after another.

If hoping for specifics just serves as a reminder of all you don’t currently have, then hope bigger. Hope for something huge and wonderful and far beyond the confines of your own life. Hope for something silly and fantastical. Or hope for something small and real and lovely.

I hope the cure for cancer is discovered tomorrow and that it turns out to be 12 hugs per day. I hope that Hogwarts is real and one day I’ll get an acceptance letter. I hope the garden I plant this Spring grows strong and beautiful by summer.

A simple thing to do to light up on the inside, is to smile at yourself. Stand in front of a mirror, look yourself in the eyes and smile. You’ll feel kind of bonkers at first, but looking at your own eyes and your mouth (overcome the instinct to look at wrinkles and blemishes), when you’re smiling, actually releases the same dopamine in your brain as you get when someone else smiles at you.

So take a minute in front of a mirror, and grin at yourself like a loon. It’s science, not insanity!

No matter how dark and bleak life can feel at times, light is always there for us. We can remember it, we can hope for it and we can create it.