To pick up a thread Chuck pulled earlier this week, a little more on the scientific properties of light:
Light’s full range of frequencies is called the electromagnetic spectrum. Streams of particles crest in waves, some fast, some slow. The human eye perceives some as colors; taken together, these form what is called the visible spectrum–what we know, colloquially, as the rainbow. Roy G. Biv, as it were, though there’s debate regarding the exact number of colors the human eye–which requires light to perceive any image–can perceive. Some say 4,000, some say 16 million.
The visible spectrum is only a small part of the electromagnetic spectrum. There are many more wavelengths the human eye can’t perceive than it can. This is not because of a difference in what light is; light is light. There is only a difference in how it behaves.
We see light as it travels along just part of its very long path. Before it gets to us, it’s been somewhere else, so to speak, and it goes somewhere else still when it leaves our sight. Any way you look at it (and I know there’s a pun in there), we can only ever be witnesses to the light.
A few weeks ago, some members of my small group were talking about how they perceived time and its passing, how they measured the day or the month or the year. It maybe wasn’t a surprise that our daily lives–our careers, our experiences, our emotions–so subtly influenced our larger perceptions. The real surprise came just in the revelation of the perceptions: The method each of us used to mark the passing of time seemed ordinary, mundane, to ourselves, but to the next person seemed entirely new.
I’m not so much a creature of the calendar or even hours as much as I am of light and dark. I find possibility or memory in the angle of the sun; at noon, when the sky seems brightest, I am most energized, and at the blue hour, when the sun has just set and the sky is still streaked with pink and orange, I am most melancholic. I can find whole hopes, I can remember whole days and attitudes and loves, and when the dark comes, I meet every fear.
The light and the absence of light mark how I pass the time, how I see the world change, how I perceive an image, a color. Some days I see 4,000 and some days I see 16 million.
I must take comfort knowing what I see, the time I know or have known or will know, is just part of a bigger whole. I am a witness to the light; I am of the light.