Learn from the things that are already in the place where you wish you were not. – Padraig O’Tuama in The Shelter, (p.9)
A dead lightbulb has been sitting on our kitchen island for more than a week. Before that, it was in the light fixture above our dining room table for more than a month, dead. I unscrewed it in a burst of this room is too dark and depressing, I’m going to do something about it energy. That was at least a week ago and it now sits on the kitchen island waiting for someone who’s going to the store that sells the right kind of bulb to remember to take it along for comparison and finally buy a new one.
That lightbulb is driving me crazy.
That lightbulb is revealing things about the place I’m in that I would rather not know.
(Don’t worry, the lightbulb isn’t telling me I’m a failure, it’s not that kind of bulb.)
When I listen closely, though, the lightbulb has a lot to say. It tells me there’s a lot going on in my life right now. So much, that little details are certain to have to be let go. It invites me to pick my priorities, again. It helps me to see that having food on the table is a triumph in itself and one good conversation that invests in the future shines a light brighter than any bulb.
I’m in a place I don’t want to be in, again. A place of many and much, a place of I didn’t realize we were going to have to deal with this now, but here we are in the middle of it anyway.
Following Padraig’s advice, I feel my heart muscle stretch to open to this new place, this new challenge, this here and now. Once it’s open, once I accept what is, I can begin to learn. I can begin to welcome the belief that even in this place, what we need is here. And so I begin by listening to the lightbulb, by “listening to the things that are already in the place where you wish you were not.”