When I was a bit younger, I went for a walk. I went past these houses and they were all lit by candles. I was fascinated. You could see all kinds of different illuminations. Big candles. Lots of little ones. Some were positioned expertly in intricate formations. Others were just beautiful in their simplicity.
I decided I wanted to light a candle….hold it and watch it glow.
I didn’t have much money so I bought a cheap candle at first. I made mistakes. Wasn’t holding it right. The light was less than desired. Some people advised me what I should do. Others made fun of me.
“You’re just using your candle to get attention,” some said.
Someone else proclaimed “I am a MASTER OF LIGHT!! I am providing beauty TO THE WORLD! ASPIRE!”
These folks were correct in a sense. Their illuminations in the past was beautiful. Alot of people admired and followed them. You did not dare criticize their light. But sometimes you even wondered if they even still lit their candles…or just talked about tem.
I bought another candle and stood in my house. It was slightly better. The light still wasn’t right, but there was progress. Some who walked by my house complimented me on the shadows and the color. Others suggested I should join with others.
I went walking again. I came across another house that was huge. The light streaming from it was incredible. All these people….had candles and they were together for a common purpose. It was truly lighting the world.
“Come in.” someone said. I was intimidated but I did.
It was bright, but as my eyes adjusted I saw things. The collective brightness was not truly together. Some stood in groups. Others alone. Some talked to others….but alot talked venomously about people in the same room.
Someone approached me, their candle burning bright. “If you want to be here, you must be us. You can’t be you.”
I laughed. “You can’t be serious,” I said with a smile.
He deadpanned me. No emotion. “The way you hold, the way you talk, the way you are…..if you want to be with us, you have to be like me…I mean "us.” Be like US. You cannot be you. You can be real like me, or you can be just another guy with a candle.“
I backed away and walked out. I was troubled again. I set down my candle, and studied it. I began to question whether I wanted this at all.
I walked away.
Actually I walked only a few steps….and then I turned around, picked up the candle and went to a nearby field. Night was falling. I sat and held my candle. The light it cast was small but as time passed I became more content.
Every now and then someone would come over to me: passing by. Sometimes they came from the house. Those visitors became friends and they stayed in the light with me. We talked. We laughed. We had great conversations.
Others muttered disdainfully from a distance.
"Arrogant.” They said. “Doesn’t know how to hold a candle.”
”There MUST be something wrong with him.”
“Not a team player.”
Ironically, they talked about each other when they weren’t conspiring together. The collective light of that house was there, but it was a lie. The idea was both humorous and horrifying.
Eventually I got another (better) candle. I began to hold it better. The light it cast surprised me at times and on other occasions I saw the errors and failings and the things I needed to work on. Getting the new candle was an improvement, but it alone, I learned, was irrelevant if I didn’t know how to hold it, if I didn’t make mistakes and more importantly…if I didn’t learn.
The house, with all the lights, doesn’t look as good now. I can see the angst and conflict and envy and spite even from here. It’s gotten louder and become more apparent.
I’m also beginning to realize that the brightness and how you hold this thing is not the point. The real question: “Did you cast light and did you do it in the best way that you could?”
The answer is never final, I guess. It is always changing.
The only thing I know for sure is I’m still here…in the field.
Sometimes I’m alone. Sometimes others are here. It’s cool. It’s not the amount of people….its the content of character, the quality, the support….
I’m not gong to disrespect the gathering of fans and followers….but I won’t embrace it for myself, by choice.
All that really matters is, I’m holding a candle.
It will go out eventually….but not today.
(Candle image courtesy of Pexels)