Erica Wheeler: inspiring connections between people and place

September 2014/Tell it Slant

September 2014Tell it Slant
There's such a quality to the slant of light during these halcyon summer days, isn't there? They're so intensely beautiful, yet they cannot last forever. Might as well dazzle us now, and let us get drunk on that light, so we can go on in a satisfied stupor toward sweater weather.

This time of year always has me stop and take stock. How well am I prepared for the days ahead, both internally and externally?

We've just gotten our firewood delivered, thinking of the days when wood will warm our bones instead of the summer sun. And I've been busy preparing for some super exciting events coming up in September.

My feature article this month is about shining through life's challenges."Tell it slant," Emily Dickinson once wrote.

Tell all the truth but tell it slant, by Emily Dickinson
Tell all the truth but tell it slant —
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth's superb surprise
As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind —

My "word of the year" for 2014 is SHINE, so I've been thinking a lot about this.I've had some amazing opportunities come up, and some challenges. The question I've been asking myself this summer is, "How can I be happy and shine my brightest when this is going on?" There isn't a minute when there isn't something to worry about somewhere. The issues and events may be different, but everyone is facing challenges, both internally and externally, to some degree, at any point in time. How we respond is the key.

Maybe it's the wisdom of age, but I am starting to see that "shine" can include a sort of patina glow. That we can shine anyway, right through the tarnish. It's not either, or. And it's that subtler quality of light that makes it all more real, beautiful and true.

From that slant, I think I can understand how we all can walk forward. Knowing this doesn't solve problems, but it does make problem-solving easier. It doesn't mean looking through rose-colored glasses, or opaque. It does mean looking for the shine, in all its hidden beauty.

My story
I tend to turn to nature or history (or poetry!) when I want to make more sense of my life. These threads of connection make me grateful for the things that stay the same in the midst of change. It's where I discover a moment of dazzle that gets woven into the day. Just one moment that makes me stop and view the rest of the day with greater appreciation. How about you?

Last December I went to Emily's house to celebrate her birthday. I'd never been to the Dickinson Homestead, even though I've lived in the area for a long time. While touring the house, I climbed up to the second floor, and right away noticed a beautiful sunset out a bedroom window. I stood in the doorway and watched the sky turn rosy, bronze and pale blue. And then I noticed the bed by the door also facing the window. Then I saw the desk and quill pen. This was Emily's bedroom! She would have seen the sun set just that way, out her window over the trees. It drew me to her, straight from the heart. It was a link of consistency between the past and present that totally surprised me. It made my heart soar.

Your Story
Where do you turn to make sense of your life?
What roots you to the past?
What brings you consistency, even in a changing world?
How do you shine, even through life's challenges?

Try this: Notice
Notice how the light at different times of day can shift the way things look.
Notice how the light can draw your attention to something you may never have noticed before.
Notice how things can draw your attention and then shift over time, just like the light.

updated: 1 year ago