Join the Revolution, and Light a Candle
Now--as the darkness coils around us like an infernal serpent, threatening to choke out our humanity--is the time to do our part and practice a commonplace convention (nay, recover an ancient activity) as we bid to salvage our sanity and perhaps even to protect our very souls.
I’m talking about reprising the original revolutionary act. I’m talking about engaging in a brush with transcendence. I’m talking about conjuring a wizardry spell of bafflingly banal reputation.
I’m talking about lighting a candle.
You laugh. You snicker skeptically, like Neil DeGrasse Tyson nursing a poorly-stifled “Well ACTUALLY the exothermic reaction,” et cetera. But I need you to focus. I need you to re-enchant your imagination. I need you to join the revolution.
Get a candle. The fun-size one chilling on top of your toilet tank cover is fine. The fancy one you bought at the farmer’s market is fine. The Virgin Mary tallboys from the corner store: also fine. Don’t have one? Go to your local grocery store and grab the tacky plastic cup of Ocean Breeze or Summer Sunset scented whatever. If it has wax and a wick and is remotely cylindrical, you’re doing great. They’re all equally dope vessels for the sublime sorcery we aim to employ.
Now place the candle at the center of a table or on a window sill or on an IKEA bookshelf next to the succulents. Magic time. It doesn’t matter what you light the candle with. Whether you’re wielding that red gas ignitor left over from the 4th of July cookout or pulling from a pack of matches you got from a hotel like you’re in a 1940s detective film: it’s all great, it’s all beautiful, it’s all part of our subversively virtuous plan of unleashing a holy and brilliant shock of exploding space into this sick and dying world.
You’ve now lit the candle. The candle is lit. Scratched a primal itch, yes? Feel a bit like Tom Hanks in Cast Away, pounding fists against chest all, “I have made fire,” yes? You just leveraged a couple of household bits and bobs to create the most useful thing of all time. And guess what? You’re not done. You’re just getting started.
Sit. Close your eyes, or don’t. Smell the aroma. Listen to the fire snap away at the wick. Behold the hypnotically dancing orange bulb wondrously push WARMTH and LIGHT into your living room and ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?! We sell these things in gas stations? This is church.
Pay attention. The candle signifies presence: you’re not alone; you’ve got company. This animated burst of energy reminds you of it. It flickers with personality and trains your eye to a calm and static center. It’s bright heat heaving itself against the cold dark. There’s life here.
Shrinking candle: the original mindfulness app. A calm, comforting, cropping effect: narrowing your focus, diffusing the noise of all the consumption and production and transaction and information usually haunting you. It’s just here and now and you and this dope little glistering miracle.
Look around. Your dingy apartment has just been injected with a welcoming and hospitable vibe. Adult conversations look like they could take place here. It’s safe, it’s inviting; the literal warmth followed by its symbolic handmaiden.
If you’re sick and tired of the cold and dark yet too afraid to construct a crude incendiary device to metaphorically throw into the icy abyss, join the revolution: light a candle.