Dark vision, light blind

I realise this will sound like a fancy metaphor, but it really is a simple fact I’ve observed the last few mornings. I walk to get the paper early, when it’s still dark outside. In fact it isn’t dark – I wonder if it ever is dark – and I can see pretty well. Some glimmer of light from somewhere gives a soft shine to the wet lane ahead, and the shapes of the trees is clear against the sky. It’s a fine time to be out, when all the world is asleep. But then as I round the first bend I am confronted by an outdoor light blazing away on a porch, and suddenly I can see nothing. Its power blinds me. As I come closer, I can see all that falls within its pool of light, but nothing else. It has achieved its goal of lighting up the little region round its own front door, but at the expense of sending the rest of the world into oblivion. Then as I walk on, and the light is behind me, so the world opens up again.

The same thing happens if a car comes driving down the lane towards me. It feels like an act of violence, the attack of the headlights. And the same sensation overwhelms me, that the driver, like the house owner, wants only to see his own immediate way, and nothing else. He has blinkered himself.

So to the fancy metaphor, which I find I can’t resist. All this is so like the way we go through life absorbed in our own affairs, which of course make us anxious and fearful, oblivious to the great otherness that surrounds us and puts our fears into perspective. Turn out the lights, and join the world.