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Leaving the Lighthouse

“The dip of the light meant that the island itself was always left in darkness. A lighthouse is for others; powerless to illuminate the space closest to it.” ― M.L. Steadman

I was young and foolish. Agreed, young is an arguably relative term, but then so is foolish. And yet, it’s all I’ve got to work with. I was young and foolish and in love. I wanted to be in love and he wanted to be happy; so that’s really where the trouble began.

Such a small word, and it means so many drastically different things to different people. To some it means stability. To some it means loyalty. Love to me then meant magic. It meant unpredictability and thrill and just a little bit of danger; enough to seek a lighthouse but not quite enough to seek harbour yet.

I think love for him meant peace. I think he was young and foolish too.

Do you know what lighthouses do? I don’t. But from all the stories, movies and legends, they seem to be both guiding lights and warnings signals for each and every ship at sea. Am I the only one who senses the irony in that? It must take everything in a lighthouse to look at a pretty little ship and say “You’re beautiful, but if you come any closer, you’ll get hurt. So go there.”

Some people are like that too. Selfless, you’d think. Strong and selfless and guiding lights to those who need them and those who don’t. But while we’re all applauding these lighthouse people for their maturity, we forget that it must take everything in an unbalanced ship to hear “You’re beautiful, but if you come any closer, you’ll get hurt. So go there.” The unhinged love stronger, you know. They run towards the light and seek warmth and love louder.

You were my lighthouse. I guess it was hard to see my hinges off from way up there. My ship wasn’t even in the midst of a storm, the sea and sky were clear and calm and I think that’s really what led me to you; the insufferable quiet of it all. I thought I’d dance in your light for a while and leave at day break, and so I did.

Once.

Felt like enough, until it didn’t.

It took me months to pass by you again. I even took a detour, for the heck of it. What harm is a lighthouse, I must have thought. What harm is another dance in the light, the light that’s shining for everyone to dance in anyway. And so I came, and danced a while in your warmth, and just as it was time to leave I noticed that the closer I got, the darker it became. You weren’t meant for me to embrace, you were meant for me to love from afar, for everyone to love from afar – little did I know then, it’s darkest where the light is being cast from.

The trouble with our tryst was that you never offered me safe harbour, you just told me the rocky island was secure. I nestled my head on your shoulders and asked if you were comfortable. “More than I should be,” you’d say, because you knew you had no room for my anchor. I was a universe too late and the spoils of the ship at the bottom of your island weren’t mine to keep.

How much we fools in love bite our wretched tongues until they begin to bleed. I loved you till I realised you were a warning sign for a menacing coastline. I loved you till I realised your light was meant to usher me, not warm me. I loved you till I realised you weren’t mine to love, till I realised that who I was wasn’t for you. A cage made of hopes is but still a cage.

“It’s so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone.” ―John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent

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Mechanics of Dreams

There’s a ship that set sail really long back. It’s loaded with food and wine and promises of a better future. It’s well lit and pretty, the entertainment on board is a little dull, but hey, it promises of a better future. It’s got a mighty anchor. No matter how far out at see you may be, no matter how bad the storm may get, that anchor will keep the ship safe. So they never leave the ship un-anchored. In time, the lovely feasts begin to feel mundane and the music ceases to soothe the ears. The ship is still sailing, content; safe. You dream of life on the port you set out to reach and it keeps you going, with its promises of a better future.

But one day, you get tired. You creep out in the middle of the night when everybody’s asleep and remove the anchor. Out on the deck, you feel the cool sea breeze slap your face, reprimanding you playfully for the naughty deed. The waves climb onto you, wetting your clothes as you enjoy the chill of the night.

But the ship is now in random motion, going its own way. You see land, and get a little excited. But no, that’s not the land you set out to reach. It does not promise a better future. So the people in charge sail the ship back to where it lost its way, anchor it once more, so it’s safe, and wait for it to drift to the port they set out to reach.

But sometimes, sometimes, somewhere down the road you realise that you’re intended destination isn’t where you want to go any more. Or that even if it still is your dream, you aren’t enthusiastic about it anymore. They say it’s the journey that matters. Well, they’re right. Pull out that anchor and once in a while, let the waves take control.

Nothing promises of a better future like a heady journey.