What is light? Can you hear it? Is it who you are? Sometimes I feel so innately connected with light that I can barely discern between my material or more tangible aspects and this force of electromagnetism. In a beautiful poem called "On Turning Ten," poet Billy Collins writes:
It seems only yesterday I used to believe there was nothing under my skin but light. If you cut me, I would shine.
I think when I am in my most integrated states—which for me are states of play—I am connected to this realization or awareness. It is as Agnes De Mille once said, "To dance is to be out of yourself, larger and more beautiful, more powerful." Yes! To dance, to play, to create is to be connected to the deeper, more beautiful patterns and forces that are ever present in nature, and as such, in us. Funnily enough, as I wrote this, my spell check changed Agnes De Mille to “Agnes dematerialized”...yep, exactly!!!!
Having just spent a week in Gothenburg, Sweden, I feel that indeed we are inseparable from light. We are this electromagnetic force that we see as light, that we feel on and under the skin of our body.
During June in Sweden, all is light. It is odd and disorienting and reminds me of the childhood that Collins poetically recalls. I loved summer as a child. I still do. I was invincible then and in touch with a vision of immortality and eternity. Time slowed down and expanded in this bowl-like container where all was held with wonder for what felt like three long months of summer. My friends and I would play hard for hours and hours, well into the night. There was me and my bike, my friends and the pool. There was the New Mexico night sky so full of stars that your mind could only expand at the grandeur of it all. It was there that I felt the universe in its vastness at an early age. I thought to myself, "forget the Church, Jesus and the Bible, THIS is God!"
It was the light that came through, shown on and out from everything. Everything was illuminated in some way. I felt this force in the darkness of winter too as the light sparkled and refracted off the crystalline snow, like a thousand tiny dancing diamonds or miniature prisms. The dark New Mexico night was the perfect place from which to peer out from our tiny home on Earth and into our bigger home in the Milky Way. Some nights the sun would cleverly remind us of its presence by bouncing off the surface of the moon. You could see the geography of the moon so clearly there. I remember thinking "the moon is a place far, far away that is sort of like our place, like New Mexico—but different!” This planted a deep seed in me. I am only beginning to feel this seed's flowering; I feel it in my body, in my practice, and in my travels.
I have never been in Sweden in the winter. My friends there assure me that it is still a magical place, and starkly beautiful. There are the northern lights and the bright white light of the snow. And even then, there in the darkness of winter, the light is always present and pulsating. It is within the Earth, as well as the sky. It is shining, as Billy Collins writes, "under our skin."
''In a sense, all of Earth glows in the dark. The energy release from natural radioactivity, the lingering florescence of stellar explosions, keeps Earth dynamic. It melts the core and keeps it flowing, and heat the crust and mantle, with consequences ranging from the generation of Earth's magnetic field to earthquakes and the motion of continents." (From Frank Wilczek, Longing for Harmonies: Theme and Variation in Modern Physics).
I am in Spain now and reflecting on my experience of the light in Sweden in midsummer. It was as if you could actually hear light there, even when it was quiet.
The light here in Girona has a different sound. It resonates differently in my body, maybe more particle like. A dancing particle—but more like a particle. Up north the light was white, bright, and pulsating in its continuous radiance. At times almost laser like. Light has a different frequency here, a different harmony. Yet it shines. Even like us, even when cut, it will shine.