Way back when I was a kid, my friends and I spent most of our summer days outdoors. From dawn until dusk, we’d ride bikes, swing on the swingsets, draw on the sidewalk with chalk, bang tennis balls against the side of the house – anything and everything our imaginations would allow.
Though we all came from different size families and backgrounds, there was one universal rule we each had to follow.
When the streetlights came on, you went home.
No ifs, ands, or buts.
Along about dusk, most of us started keeping one eye peeled toward the lamppost on the corner. “It’s not on yet!” someone would yell. ‘Let’s play one more game! Hurry up! We don’t have long!”
The excitement intensified as the sky darkened – we knew time was short, and we were desperate to make the most of it. So when the dim bulb in the street lamp magically popped aglow, a chorus of “See ya!” and “Bye!” was heard round the cul-de-sac, as dozens of kids separated themselves from their friends and their games and headed home to bed.
The street light sort of ordered our days back then, provided us with a guide, a way to end our day independent of our parents, a signal by which we steered our way home. Sometimes, I was guiltily glad to see the light come on. Truthfully, by the end of the day I was often tired of noise and confusion, weary of the loud voices of my friends and their tiresome demands. I was ready to head for home, a warm bath, the comfort of my books and my dog. But I was afraid of being called a loser or a wimp if I went inside before dark, if I gave up on the games before my friends wanted to call it a night. So I stuck it out, gazing longingly at the street light all the while.
Lightposts are good. We need them. Sometimes now when I get weary of life and wonder what it’s all for anyway, I think about the people who need me most- my husband, my mother, my dogs – and I’m inspired to pull myself up and soldier on. When I get frustrated with my job and all its petty requirements, I can sit down at the piano and play, feeling the satisfaction that comes from doing something I love. When I get lonely and feel misunderstood, I can have a glass of wine with a friend and share my sadness, let her pull me back to earth.
There are guiding lights everywhere in our lives. Like that corner lamppost long ago, I try to keep my eyes on mine at all times.
How about you? Are there guiding lights in your life?
for: Write On Wednesday