ANNA BELFRAGE

Step inside and steal some moments in another place, another time

When the light gutters…

722px-DiwaliOilLampCropImagine that you are the flame of a candle, an oblong of orange heat that spreads light and comfort in a dark world. Well, I don’t know about you, but I like trying to spread warmth and comfort, keeping that little flame bright and chirpy.

Now and then, though, a gust of wind blows you sideways, and you flutter and gasp before regaining your equilibrium and getting on with your life, your little flame back to its normal upright position. Most of us are good at handling the occasional gust – one could almost say that some of us actually burn all the better for the odd, unexpected burst of air.

Sometimes, though, the gusts are too many and too frequent, and the little flame shrinks and ducks, gasping for life. Suddenly, there is no energy left with which to light up life. Suddenly, the flame is guttering on the brink of extinction. Suddenly, all you want to do is run away and hide…

Several years ago, I found myself in a wind-tunnel. Life was too hectic, too much. Four kids, a more than full-time job, running a daycare centre on the side, a husband I loved but never seemed to spend any time with… The wind increased and the flame that was me went out. Completely. Pitch dark, was how it felt inside of me. I was incapable of doing anything, had the attention span of a newt, and panicked at the thought of peeling the potatoes because I couldn’t quite remember how one peeled a potato – or what I was supposed to do with them once they were peeled.

For a person who had always valued myself on my achievements rather than on who I was, the following months were a nightmare – after all, I couldn’t DO anything (well, beyond peeling potatoes, which I did get the hang of after a couple of days). I couldn’t read a book, because when I turned the page I couldn’t for my life recall what I had just read. I couldn’t watch a movie, because somewhere halfway through I’d lose the plot. I couldn’t even sing, because all those lyrics that used to run like water through my brain were lost, impossible to remember.  I was trapped, forced to face up to the fact that I had been burning my candle at both ends, and now there was at most a little stub left.

rose

For him, my hand in the dark

But in all that dark, there was a hand to hold on to. There was a man who repeated he loved me, who walked by my side all the way. When I had no fire, he had it for me, when I was extinguished, he burnt all the brighter, his fingers closing on mine as he assured me – yet again – that this also would pass. I can’t say I believed him. I was quite convinced I would be stuck in the wasteland my brain had become for ever.

Okay, so he was right and I was wrong. Slowly the energy returned, and there was a morning two years on when I woke in the morning without feeling tired. Yet some months and I began singing in the shower again. But I will never forget those long weeks when I lived in the dark – inside my head – when every task, no matter how simple, was an almost insurmountable challenge.

Have I changed my life? Not much. I still do too much, I still rush like a demented rabbit from one task to the other. After all, life is SHORT and there is so much left to do right? But I know for a fact that I wouldn’t be here, be me, if it hadn’t been for him. When my light guttered, I was lucky enough to have someone beside me who loved me for who I was – not for what I did. Rather fortunate, as I never loved myself much to begin with – at least not then.

In many ways, we are all little candles that burn and flutter. Now and then, one of us pants and gasps, the flame shrinking to a minute fleck of almost invisible blue. That’s when the rest of us have to burn that little bit brighter to guide them back into the light – for the sake of all of us. Like John Donne wrote:
“No man is an island,
entire of itself.
Every man is a piece of the continent,
part of the main. “
I bet you John Donne was great at holding hands with people who wallowed in the dark. And who knows, maybe he broke out into his own little rendition of  “Let it shine” – even if I do believe he would have been quite appalled by the paucity of the lyrics as such.

 

 

 

 

 

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10 thoughts on “When the light gutters…

  1. Besides the fantastic writing as always, which puts words to my feelings in the past as well, this is a good reminder that we are only human, and we have to take care of ourselves. I have never been able to get my concentration back, so all the work I do is done slowly. Reading, even watching movies, I have to rewind and watch again. Sometimes the whole movie (I’m talking mysteries, where you have to be able to figure things out).

    Above all, let us all make time for the ones we love because they would rather have us than any amount of money we could earn spending overtime away from them. Children are happy with a few gifts from time to time. They don’t need expensive ones. And our mates? Imagine waking up and finding out they are gone, and we missed out on time we could have had.

    Good for you, writing this. I love the candle illustration. It is so true.

    • I sometimes worry that we live in a day and age where speed in delivery is more important than content. It’s like that cliche “Quality before quantity” – which is even worse than a cliche, because unless there is some basic quantity it’s difficult to achieve quality… I am glad you liked the post, and thank you for your generous words about my writing.

      • Lillemor Tedemark on said:

        Hej Anna,
        Jag gick också in i den så kallade väggen, det fanns ingen som stöttade mig på samma sätt som du hade. Jag klarade av det på grund av att jag är mycket viljestark och har en levnadsglädje hur illa det än är. Du skall veta att när jag jobbade på Cardo var du en stor förebild för mig, jag beundrade dig väldigt mycket för din självständighet och din starka vilja, som du alltid stod för. Mycket av det du skriver har hjälpt mig framåt, du skriver så kloka texter. Idag mår jag bra, och har hittat styrkan i mig själv igen. Lycka till Anna i ditt fortsatta skrivande, du är och förblir en förebild för mig.
        Många kramar till dig
        Lillemor Tedemark

      • Tack för dina vackra ord, Lillemor! Jag känner mig väldigt hedrad över att du hade mig som förebild – själv tyckte jag alltid att du var en energispruta, någon som alltid spred värme. Skönt att höra att du hittat tillbaka till ljuset – många kramar,

        Anna

  2. Esther on said:

    Beautiful Anna and so true in so many ways. Thank you xxx

  3. Susan Abernethy on said:

    Yes just beautiful Anna. Lucky he was there.

  4. sarahjesusnlily on said:

    I’m assuming you’re talking about your husband here, and if so, you’ve been blessed with a husband for the ages – one the rest of us would give our eye teeth to have. Thank you for posting this. I’ve never been married, but if I ever wanted to be, then a man like your husband would be who I would look for!

    BTW, I love your writing!

    Sarah

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