Ava wanted to play with her flash light today for the first time since April. It’s an old promotional flashlight that I put in her stocking last Christmas (funny how the best things are often free/unexpected). She loves shining it all over the floor and stairs while our dog, Moki, chases the cast light. Moki gets a little neurotic about chasing lights and shadows…but it’s fun! While we were playing, it dawned on me that the ambient light was low enough to allow for the flashlight to work! Darkness is setting in, but with it, we are gifted illumination.
In Alaska, the “golden hour” lasts a very long time as the lazy sun stays low on the horizon casting golden rays to beautifully illuminate the golden leaves and frosted grass that has started to show up in the mornings. It actually gets dark at night so headlights on cars are necessary, flashlights are needed for evening walks and night lights are crucial in the house to avoid stubbed toes during middle of the night wanderings. During the summer, while everything is visible almost all of the time, we get used to being able to see. As the winter approaches, I find a small sliver of appreciation in illuminating my surroundings. They haven’t changed, but I start to see them in a new…ahem…light.
I have a little anecdote for you…
Okay. This might come off as a little…creepy. But the more I think about it the less creepy it is. The rural girl in me is used to and likes windows (of my home) that look out into woods, or over a field, or maybe even a beautiful mountain. Living in the city makes this a little different. Now I can see other people’s windows fairly clearly. In the past, other house’s windows haven’t been totally out of eye sight, but far enough away that nothing could be discerned from within the home. While walking down a rural or even suburban road at night you can see that some windows are lit up, some are dark, some have that blue flicker of a TV screen shimmering through. However, you can’t really make out any furniture or people. Walking around my city neighborhood now, I can clearly see straight into some people’s homes! I try to avert my eyes…but sometimes curiosity is too strong, and I take quick glances. There are two homes near mine that have baseball cap loving owners which I know because they are on display lining the tops of every wall. Many houses have beautiful house plants. One house has the biggest computer I’ve ever seen in the entry way. The people in another house are always playing video games–morning, noon, night. Another house has a very impressive bar. So, I’m no Gladys Kravitz, but I do steal peaks here and there while walking the dog at night…if anything, it’s made me much more conscious of my own windows and blinds.
While all of these little glances are fine and probably expected, there is one window that is especially intriguing to me. From our little porch, I can see the entire side of the three story apartment building across the alley. I like to sit on the porch after the kids are asleep and relax for a bit and I often notice the actions in one of the windows. The persons blinds are almost always drawn, but there is a back light that casts a shadow of the person’s profile directly at the center of the window. It’s very Hitchcock like. I always assumed it was a dude on his computer, surfing Facebook or playing World of Warcraft or some other life wasting endeavor. His profile moves back out of the frame of the window from time to time and then back in, chin slightly lowered, posture not great–Computer posture if I ever saw it!
The other day I was very pleasantly surprised. I went out to the porch and the person’s blinds were open! I really, truly tried not to peer in–but how could I not? There aren’t that many places to look off of my little porch. Anyhow, this is not a “dude on a computer” it is someone painting! What a pleasant surprise! It could even be a woman for all I know. We are far enough away that I can’t tell the person’s gender or age, but I can see that the person is painting–Leaning back from time to time to take in the whole painting, looking down at a pallete and adding touches here and there. What a wonderful surprise, to see someone being consistently creative.
This revelation gave me pause. What else do I assume? What other snap judgments do I make based on the very little that I can see? I know that I am a fairly “judgy” person. It is something I’ve struggled with for…ever? But this experience had me further questioning my “micro assumptions.” It was a great lesson in allowing myself to judge in a different way–in a way that allows for multiple scenarios. Why did I automatically assume this person was a man on a computer? Why didn’t I also explore also possibilities? It could have been a child practicing letters on a white board, someone playing darts, an old woman on a loom, somebody doing some kind of physical therapy. Furthermore, why do I have to assume anything of this person who I don’t know from anyone else? You know what assuming does, right?
With this time of darkness also comes illumination–of both the physical world and of our own psyches. I’m grateful my newfound “city-ness” has reminded me to keep my assumptions in check, especially with such a blatant example. I’ve been missing a lot of the nuances of life with these two little ones, so I needed something like this to spell it out (or paint it out?) for me.
And now, in a few hours (I’m writing this post almost a week early!!!!), I’m off to Hawaii with my family! I can’t wait to report back on paradise. I’ll try to keep my assumptions in check!
Sending peace and love from Alaska/Hawaii!
Alex, the Rural Farmgirl