A Certain Slant of Light

A couple days ago I was home after 12 hours at school and I was beat and feeling a bit blue. I took the long hike up three stories to our bedroom, right knee creaking louder than the 120-year-old steps I trod, and I spent a few minutes aimlessly browsing the internet. I walked across to the master bath at the back of the house and there was a vivid blood-red line of deep scarlet light slashing midway across the bathroom door and onto the bookcase in the hallway. For a second I froze, delighting in the feeling evoked by a sort of aesthetic arrest, and then I thought “I need to get my camera–where is the Canon?” and then I thought “I can’t capture that any how. What setting would capture it?” And then a germ or seed of this blog post came to me, and then I checked the position of the sun which hung low over the roofs of the rowhomes just west of my own, and thought about how the light was beautiful but it was a really simple thing, beautiful sunlight at sunset, and that there was no reason to photograph or blog about or be impressed by this. And then I looked again at the red slash across the bathroom door. The red had deepened to an orange and scarlet melange, and I noticed the cheap plastic Home Depot door knob fashioned to resemble an antique glass or cut crystal knob with a multi-facted diamond shape–it was alive with color and had cast several tiny rainbows on the wall behind the door. And I thought “Man, it’s not simple at all that I would walk into the bathroom at just the right moment to catch this effect. All of the mechanisms of the solar system had to align perfectly for this moment to occur. The sun is shooting a beam across the neighbor’s roof and into a circular cutout of a floral pattern printed on an Ikea curtain such that the floral pattern had thinner fabric and a less opaque shape to create nice effects with the sunlight and this indeed was a nice effect. The chances of all this aligning at once, and for me to be at just the right spot and at the exact time necessary, were miniscule.

And then I thought about all this thinking, and how the light was fading rapidly, and I noted the disappearance of the refracted light on the walls, inch-long spectra in intense bars fading from YellowGreenBlue to just Yellow and then away. That faint pang of regret I always feel around sunset tinged out to my extremities, and I felt intensely how thinking had ruined my chance to simply look at and be with that ‘certain slant of light.’

3 responses to “A Certain Slant of Light

  1. My meditation teacher would point out that the regret, and the failure to appreciate the situation fully, and the scurrying half-realized scatter of thought, analysis and simple pleasure, all entirely and authentically comprise the experience: nothing was loss…

  2. Geoff – Thanks for your post above. It allowed me to enjoy your sunset as I start my day at work. Similarly, I sometimes just go out at night or in the early morning and look up into the sky and stare at the stars. It is relaxing and deep at the same time.

  3. Can see the stars sometimes in the City–but they replaced our sodium glare street lights with mercury, making even bright stars and planets harder to see.

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