“In a dark place we find ourselves, and a little more knowledge lights our way.” -Yoda, Star Wars
Our lives are a tangled mix of both good and bad. Oftentimes, we either take the good moments for granted or focus and dwell too much on the bad times. We overlook just how much this makes us human – vulnerable and susceptible to pain. Admittedly, the past year has been pretty tiring for all of us. And that’s okay. You’re not alone. Coronavirus has brought an immense amount of stress and roadblocks. Like a broken record machine, it’s as if the world paused for a moment, never quite going back to where it used to be. With the uncertainty of our future, we don’t even know what to call “normal” anymore – if we can even go back to that. We are naturally adaptive but we can only stay resilient for so long. We can’t continue looming over our shadows. We have to find the light – the hope – and move forward.
Darkness has been a universal metaphor to refer to negative things. Be it fear, sadness, anger, or pain. But what if you’ve been told this: a state of darkness is just ignorance in disguise. You just have not been looking at the right side. Try to stand in the centre of your room. Close your eyes. You might see things differently (or in this case, not see anything at all!) but you’re still standing in the same place. Close your eyes again (or don’t) and take one step forward. Whether you did it with your eyes closed or open, it’s still a step forward. We move forward because we make it happen and not just because we can follow a single sight of direction.
Wherever there is light, there is also shadow.
It’s completely normal for people to go through dark phases. We hurt. We cry. We grieve. It’s important to acknowledge these things. They’re part of our journey. And it’s also important to remember holding onto that light. That flicker of hope. No matter how small it is. No matter how hopeless it may seem. You have to keep it ignited. This is why we firmly instill a growth mindset amongst our students. We may all cope differently but having a growth mindset changes the course of how we see things. You will realise that you can always turn things around.
Opposite of dark, light has been commonly used as a metaphor to represent good things. It can symbolise many things: hope, intellect, divinity, and happiness, amongst others. Light serves as a beacon of hope – and that’s exactly what it is. Notice how our shadows are always tied to any source of light? We tend to focus on the shadows in front of us that we fail to see just how much light there is around us. The message is clear: we’re often fixated on the problems when the solutions are right around us. The light won’t always come to you. Sometimes, you have to look for it.
A commemoration of light and hope
Diwali or Divali is a festival of light observed by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and Buddhists around the world. It’s derived from the Sanskrit term ‘deepavali,’ which means “row of lights.” The festival celebration takes place based on the Hindu lunar calendar. In these different cultures, the interpretation of why it is celebrated varies, but their common denominator is that it is a festivity of good’s triumph against evil. Much like the Lunar New Year, Diwali marks the celebration of new beginnings. The festivities primarily involve the lighting of oil lamps in houses and in the streets. Families would set up reunions and gatherings. Children would exchange gifts and sweets! Tourists would have the chance to try many delicacies. Fireworks would light up the sky. Diwali is truly a fascinating festival that reassures: there will always be a light to guide us.
In the UK, a commemorative observation is held annually – the Guy Fawkes Night or Bonfire Night. The customary traditions observed during the celebration goes way back in history. A group of Catholics plotted to assassinate King James I during the State Opening of Parliament on the 5th of November 1605. The movement, infamously known as the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, was put to halt when the schemes of the group were anonymously exposed. This betrayal led to the arrest and execution of its members, including Guy Fawkes who was left in charge of the explosives. The people then lit massive bonfires to celebrate the prevention of such treason from happening. In modern times, the celebration involves lighting of fireworks and bonfires, as well as bonfire night food – from hearty sausages, s’mores, toffee apples – there’s a wide variety of choices! Families would also make effigies of Guy Fawkes, which are then burned in the streets.
A beacon in the dark
It’s in the darkest hours that our lights will shine the brightest. We don’t need to wait for the light at the end of the tunnel. Oftentimes, we look for a source of light elsewhere – not realising that the light has always been within us. All we have to do is to find it. By facing what may come in the dark, we are allowing ourselves to grow and learn. Find your light and be your own beacon of hope.