Sunday, December 9, 2012

Lighten Up!

You know how you finally do something you know you should have always done, and you think ‘I should have been doing this all along! My life would have been so much easier!’

For me that epiphany was in owning a book light. Finally! After years of straining my eyes, I finally broke down and got one.

Now, before you think I am completely nuts, and wonder where I had been all these years and why did I only just get one now? I thought I could manage without one – I thought I was invincible.

I love to read on the bus – no ‘bus buddies’ for me - and this year’s daylight savings time-change was the last straw. I knew I needed a booklight.

I ride the bus morning and night, and for half the year I do so in the dark. Some buses have minimal of interior lighting inside, turned on by the driver as we speed along, and some don’t. And those that do, you have to ensure you pick the seat with the faint lighting positioned perfectly above the best seat – if available, that is. And for me, the perfect seat is not only under lighting, but one that is not amongst a crowd of social gabbers, ‘bus buddies’ if you will. Fine for those who love to chat, but this is quiet zone everyone! Some of us are reading!

So very often the seat I want, away from the talking-non-stop ‘bus buddies,’ is in the dark. Although I love the seclusion of sitting in the dark after a long day, I need to read to escape. For me with my busy life, riding the bus is very often the only time I can read. But how does a dark corner seat work for a voracious reader?

I want it all, and can’t have it – a dark corner, but with light of course, and no people talking around me. Maybe I just need my own chauffeured limousine. (actually, come to think of it, that’s a great idea.....).

Sometimes when I haven’t been fortunate to get a seat in a dark corner, I just grab any seat. At least I HAVE a seat – I can’t stand and read. So I look at the positive side of sitting in amongst the non-stop-talkers – at least I can get a bit of lighting. I have mastered the art of blocking out voices, and I angle my book this way and that, trying to position the sparse overhead lighting ‘just so’ on my pages.

And then other times nothing I do works, it’s too dark. Which is fine, but sometimes when I can’t use that precious solitary time to get at the book I had been anxious to get to all day, I get a bit...grumpy.

So with too many times of tilting of my book this way and that, straining my eyes in dwindling afternoon winter light from outside the bus, and too many comments like “You should get a booklight, heh, heh, heh” from a person beside me (as I fought not to roll my eyes at their so-called ‘joke’ and respond with ‘duh, I know that!’), I finally got one. A booklight.

And I was excited, and thrilled, and carried it in my bag for three days without using it because, of course, just as I FINALLY got one, I have seats with good lighting (and non-stop-talking people) around me for a few days.

And then I got nervous. I realized it would be LIGHT – something BRIGHT – and would therefore draw attention to me. I realized that someone would likely make a comment about the book light, the book light becoming a conversation piece. All those non-stop-talkers I worked hard to avoid would likely try talking to ME. With the book light like a spotlight, my dark solitude would be ruined, and all eyes would be on me. I was suddenly shy, embarrassed, and wary of making a spectacle of myself. This was not going to turn out how I hoped at all.

So the day finally came, I had my perfect dark seat, away from the non-stop-talkers. I took a deep breath and, keeping my head down to avoid eye-contact with those who could still see me in the fast fading dusk light, I pulled out my book light.

And positioned it on my book.

And before I turned it on, I prepared for the bus load of people to laugh or hurl sarcastic comments, or maybe the regulars who I see at the same time every day calling out ‘it’s about time!’ Or what if it was too bright for the driver? Or what if....what if it’s not bright enough, or it falls off the book, or I can’t juggle both, or.....

So I finally had this light, was anxious to use it, and now I was getting all worked up about it. The stress was unbearable, and at that moment I considered strapping myself to the bike racks on the front grill of the bus.

Click. I turned it.

I didn’t read a word, didn’t move a muscle. I waited for reactions, for gasps, for unwanted comments and attention.


The non-stop-talkers kept talking, the babies kept crying, the stop-alert alarm kept dinging, and people kept getting on and off the bus. Everyone carried on as normal. No one cared about me and my booklight.

And so I started reading.

And stayed out of the spotlight.

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