Dried wood fuels the warmth filling the cabin as wind and pressure drive smoke down from the outside stove pipe. On the ground, tiny circles form in small puddles as the last few droplets of rain fall from a passing storm. Quickly and orderly, these circles expand across the surface of the water as leafless limbs of the oak trees move disorderly in the cold breeze.
Gray clouds fill the sky from horizon to horizon keeping the interior of the cabin dark as I continue to work beneath the light of a desk lamp and before the light of a computer screen, along with what little light escapes the door of the wood stove. I am primarily surrounded by shadows on the dreary day.
Writing in such low-lit surroundings keep the distractions hidden within the shadows. I had a course in college in which the teacher turned off half the lights in the room and had those in the shadows put their heads on their desks and simply listen while those in the lighted part of the room followed along in their books as he read. Each week, the roles were reversed between halves of the room. It was an interesting lesson on concentration, and on how one can be influenced by one’s surroundings.
Sometimes, to open our eyes we must be willing to close them. Sometimes, in order to see, all we have to do is listen. And sometimes to concentrate or learn, we need to sit within what light is available, even if it means being completely surrounded by shadows.