Shine Brighter

Freeplay 20/20 (flashlight)

When I was about seventeen years old, my mother’s boyfriend bought me a handheld crank flashlight as a gift. Although I was grateful to be thought of, I didn’t think much of the gift. It got put away into a drawer along with the other thoughtful but not-so-useful gifts I had accumulated over the years. It wasn’t until we had a power outage, did I even remember that I had it and that in fact it was useful.

The little level pulled up and the idea was you could crank it to recharge the battery and even crank it while it was turned on if you couldn’t wait for the battery to charge. The flashlight worked well enough but the battery was not long lasting and the light would dim after a few minutes of use. If the battery got low enough, cranking it while the light was on would result in a fairly consistent, albeit dim light that would die the second the cranking stopped.

The charge generated by the hand crank could not keep up with the energy demand of creating light. It would create some, enough light to function on a base level, but not bright enough to make life measurably easier. Unless of course there was a warning before the flashlight was needed and it could be cranked sufficiently ahead of time. If it was turned on with a full battery, it functioned like a normal flashlight. However, in times of crisis, there was hardly a time it could be cranked ahead of time, thus resulting in perpetual dim light with a rapidly draining battery.

My life has been busy lately. Or at least it feels that way. The moment I stop moving to read a book with one of my children, I almost immediately fall asleep. Fatigue has gripped me in an unfamiliar way. I don’t feel sick or depressed yet I struggle to complete my daily workload with any measure of grace. My internal battery feels like that of the wind-up flashlight. My daily cranking is no longer sufficient to shine as bright as I want to.

“The more I have to do, the more I get done” has been my mantra for many years. This isn’t the first time I’ve found myself on the sidelines of my own life, but it is the first time since having children. I no longer have the selfish option of self-preservation at all costs, as my life is no longer solely mine.

Historically, when I hit periods of low energy in my life, I changed whatever I can to increase my enthusiasm. However, I’m unsure of how to do that with two young children, and two dogs, that depend on me and the delicate balance that my husband and I have carefully crafted to prevent utter chaos from erupting in our homelife.

person standing near bonfire with hands to the side
Photo by Juan Pablo Serrano Arenas on

Life will come and go without my permission. If I spend too much time reflecting without action my world could cave inward further separating me from the aspects of life that I enjoy the most. I’m not sure what the answer is but I can’t help but think the parallels between my life today and that crank flashlight from so many years ago hold the wisdom required to change my perspective.

Today I will remember that it’s ok to let the light dim and even, on occasion, to let it burn out. Constant cranking is not sustainable nor is living in complete darkness. Rest, then work towards making my light brighter seems an effective strategy.

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