Phrase painted as a mural on the floor of a Jolie, IL, prison where inmates enter solitary confinement.
My once vivid perspective during autumn’s color spree is now a mere sliver of that earlier brilliance — a floundering memory that has, by and large, returned to compost in the bin of the old year’s residual clippings. The mind dims under collective pressure, breaking down beneath the polar cap’s perpetual carpetbagging and life’s orthodox gravity. I am reduced to solitary confinement.
A reactionary, a malcontent, a misfit, a droid of a human lacking so great or little faith, I seize any opportunity to manipulate and control the various aspects of my life. Running, I drag them tethered to my wrist like a kite along the rutted, muddy ground until they are at last airborne, though much worse for the wear. If the absolute power were mine, I would redirect the skies, relegating the interminable gray shroud to the caverns of inner earth. Such control is, of course, a mockery. Habitually, I forget my place. Mercy makes a miracle of anything — even forgetful, poor memories such as mine. Winter grudgingly retreats from the hemisphere as earth tilts its sloped shoulders gradually back towards the sun. I want that light on my slumped shoulders. It is never too late for light.
Possessing the advantage of a dormant, unclothed earth, winter inexplicably fails to magnify the vulnerable horizon or to embellish the land with additional light, even though its skeleton sentinels’ boughs beg for it. Rather, winter is contradictory. Daylight is a phantom. Rays of light bear themselves away, hide in the nooks and crannies of desolate discomfort, rarely stretching their wings to fledge or raise their voice in victorious song. These shy light-birds grant the incessant, pillow-quilted ceiling overhead an eternity to strangle the mending powers of blue sky hope, itself ever-struggling for voice and victory. The longer the shadows linger, the graver the despondency and psychological burden. December, January, February — into March it crows, laughing at the toll it inflicts upon the vulnerable ones.
I am not immune. I experience malnutrition of light. I get lost, refuse aid, turn inward, and forget the unforgettable. Eventually, cloistered and groveling in a cloud of my own frozen thought, I capitulate to failure. It is a small but not insignificant moment. It is never too late to be found rare, deteriorating, and undone. Out of the rubble the altar is built. There is victory in failure; just ask any person in recovery, fighting for life. It is never too late to fail.
Then one day, it happens: rising out of bed in the new day blessing, rubbing the crusted corners of my eyes, drawing back the curtains, I behold through a breach in seasonal tyranny the previously cloaked indigo canvas. Its light is shocking. Reveling in the vaulted firmament, I swear I will never again curse the heavens or the sun in their — in my! — desertion. I remember to smile. A late afternoon plume of light bounds earthward, and its profile jogs my sleeping memory of the forgotten sights and smells of seasonal temperance. The sky, like so much of the natural world, molts its pale plumage to that of opulence, of radiance. Water drips from a thawing gutter. A blade of grass punctures snow’s surface. An unopened crocus threatens color upon the grim scene of earth. Seemingly from their souls, the stark plumage of goldfinches bursts forth. Willows, those early heralds, begin their verdant weeping. They percolate and reach low, teasing the ground to life. A wren flicks its tail and instinctually warbles of frailty, of carefree ways, of mending. Their song is familiar, the notes all too welcome. It is never too late to mend.
Locked away with solitary thoughts as accompaniment, I know of no unhealthier space than that of the windowless, lightless confine of a mind grown gray, despondent, and absent of melody. We are lit souls, after all, as much born for light as made to shine it. We are made for one another. We are made for blessing. Yet inexplicably, I choose to remain in solitary confinement for such stretches of time that I can no longer tell the difference between time given and time taken. I can, however, discern between a sliver of light and a universe of darkness, for the one has yet to overtake the other. That memory of light mends what once was despondent and slumping in the winter of my mind, and — seemingly from within — a grateful, remembering soul bursts forth.
Eric Peters lives in a hole in the ground with his myriad house pets, a pair of cackling ganders, and a servant serpent named Musket. Eric spends his days fireside, sipping cafe au lait while whittling, doodling, or dawdling (in no particular order). He jogs barefoot, and he prefers a wild, overgrown lawn.
Eric lives in a quiet historic neighborhood in east Nashville with his wife, Danielle, and their two boys. When he's not performing on stage or tending to his burgeoning lawn care side business, he writes and records songs, and sings them to unsuspecting folks. When he's not doing that, he ponders quirky things. Eric enjoys manicuring lawns, painting, making oddball folk sculptures, and eating well-seasoned nachos. He has no love for serpents.