Don’t Ever Let Anyone Tell You You Don’t Have a Light

“Mommy, mommy, tell us  about the time you got hit in the face with a fish!” My 4-year-old exclaims.

“Yeah, yeah! Tell us mom!” My 2-year-old adds.

My kids love stories. I love that they love stories. This story is one of their favorites.

“Well kids, one time, in a country far, far away, I was riding on the ocean on a small boat. It was dark, and we were headed back to shore. The stars were bright and shining clear while the ocean looked black as oil. Then, all of a sudden something hit me in the head! I didn’t know what it was at first, but when I looked down in the boat, I saw it. It was a fish! It jumped right out of the ocean. And you know what?”

<the rapt attention of a 2 and 4 year old>

“What mommy?”

“It was glowing green! It was a glowing, green fish! And you know what else? It left some of its glow on my face! Can you believe that!?”

<toddler giggles>

“Like a ghost, mommy?” My 2-year-old asks because he’s fascinated by ghosts.

“But mommy, why was it glowing?” My 4-year-old asks because she’s at that stage where she wants to know why? Why? WHY!?

At this point, I used to tell them the truth. “I don’t know, that’s just how God made that fish.”

glowing fish in nemo

But that was before.

That was before I started to understand about light and things that glow. Now I tell them something different.

I tell them everything has a light. And it’s not just for making things seen – for illuminating the darkness – although it can do that too.

The light within all things is primordial. It’s the dangling light of an Angler fish made popular in Finding Nemo. It’s the glow that runs through jelly fish, lightning bugs and the aurora borealis.

don't ever let anyone tell you you don't have a light aurora borealis

Image courtesy of Astronomy Picture of the Day. http://apod.nasa.gov

And if you think you can only find this glow in the wild, think again…

"XXX" Neon Sign

… because this is what happens when you electrify rarefied gasses in a tube.

Whether it’s obvious or not, this elemental neon glow of far away galaxies and nebulas is what we’re all made of, and we only fail in life when we don’t see it, or we allow someone else to dim it.

I now know that the glowing fish that hit me in the face, wasn’t glowing itself, per se. The glow was from the algae in the water, which is common off the coast of Costa Rica. It’s called bioluminescence, and it’s the production and emission of light by a living organism.

Since their faces would gloss over if I said “bioluminescence” I tell them that the fish was giving me a kiss because he wanted to show me his light, and to remind me of my own.  I say that each of them has this light too, even if they don’t see it. I tell them we all have it, and it’s our job in life to find it, follow it, and let it lead us back to shore over and over again.

7 11 neon

I tell them they should try to see the light in everyone else too, no matter how dark it seems. And I tell them it’s very important not to allow anyone to tell them they don’t have a light.

And if they ever forget, they just need to look at the stars, or the local 7-11.

Then I tell them about an ancient greeting called “Namaste” which essentially means, “the divine light in me, sees, honors and bows to the divine light in you.”

And maybe someday I’ll add a little information about the relatively new technology of nuclear medicine which illuminates biologic activity in the body.

Because wherever you see it, it’s all light, life and love… 

Body Emotional Imaging Love

 Why? Because that’s just how God made us.

(The above image is from Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States from recent research into the mapping of bodily emotions.)

Rapunzel Would Have Needed Serious Therapy

You know that moment near the end of the Disney movie “Tangled” when Rapunzel’s sitting in the tower; it’s after her big adventure and now she’s sad because she thinks Flynn Ryder has betrayed her trust. Rapunzel has returned to the safety of the only home she’s ever known with the only person who ever loved her. You know when she starts seeing all the signs – the suns she has drawn like keys on a map – the suns, like memories of her heart, start illuminating themselves, and she comes to the painful realization that the one she thought loved her was really the one with their boot on her neck this whole time? In storytelling, this is called “the insight moment.”

Then, do you remember how she stands up to the person she thought was her “mother” and realizes, “It was you. All along it was you?”

I know exactly how she’s feeling in that moment. That insight moment is devastating.

But in real life, when you see the dark side of the one person you thought loved you, it doesn’t end as well as it did for Disney’s Rapunzel. Then again, nothing is like the fairy tales, is it?

In real life, you shut down. You start questioning every decision you’ve ever made and every person you’ve ever trusted. You put your therapist on speed dial. You look sideways at anyone trying to give you a helping hand, because if you could have been so wrong about love this whole time… who are you to judge who really loves you?

It’s so easy to become jaded after an unimaginable betrayal. It’s easy… and safer. It’s most tempting to build walls around yourself and shore up your heart with barbed wire and court orders. It’s frighteningly easy to lose faith in all humanity when the one person you’ve trusted, is not who you thought them to be… all these years.

But Mr. Roger’s sage wisdom for scary times says, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

Never in my life have so many friends, family and strangers extended me compassion and love after I announced I was getting a divorce.

You see, there’s this club. A club I never wanted to be in. When I saw its members, I ran for the hills just in case whatever they did to be in that club was contagious. It’s the divorcee club. Those who are in it… you know. All you have to say is, “I’m getting a divorce,” and suddenly, the members are there… wanting to help; feeling your pain; eager to give you a hug and offer advice. It’s truly amazing. These members. These helpers.

I’m almost two months into dealing with the reality of divorce and I’ve decided, I’m not going to dwell on the misjudgments I’ve made in the past about trust and character… I’m going to look for the helpers.

As I sat in the courtroom after my hearing, and while waiting for the paperwork to be filed; after hours of wringing my hands and negotiation, I collapsed into the empty last row. I was behind a pillar and out of view from the bench when I started to cry… uncontrollably. It came so fast and furious I was caught off guard. Stupidly, I hadn’t brought tissues. I tried like hell to stop it. My attorney would be back at my side any minute and I had to get the tears under control. I turned my body around, almost sitting backward toward the wall. I lifted my shirt collar and wiped away what I could, but the tears just kept coming. I started to shake a little.

A woman in the row in front of me, just to the right of the pillar turned around. She said, “here honey,” and handed me two Starbucks napkins. I have never been so grateful.

To that anonymous woman in family court, to my friends who held me steady while I signed my name on the dotted line, to my mother who never failed to answer her phone no matter what time -for more than month, to my cousin who  wore this path before me and bought me a liquid lunch while giving me sound advice, to the mom at preschool who grabbed my arm and said “call me”, to “Josh” the utilities guy on the phone who helped me sort out a sticky bill, to the friends I haven’t spoken to in years who have called and emailed, to ALL of you who poured out their messages of love and support on my blog and Facebook… thank you.

Thank you for not letting me build my walls. Thank you for restoring my faith in humanity. Thank you for being the helpers. I couldn’t do this without you because as strong as I am… I am nothing without the GENUINE love and kindness of others.

ShannonLell.com