"The human spirit yearns for goodness as the eye longs for beauty." ~ Felix Adler
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
You Can't Freeze Glowsticks (or Life)
As we packed up at the end of our family camping trip last week, my five year old daughter suddenly came barreling into view, panicked and holding out something small and shiny. "Can we freeze my glowsticks?!" she practically shouted. "They will last if we freeze them!"
I challenge you to look into the eyes of a five year old and tell her that you will not freeze the glowsticks that are obviously central to her entire happiness in life. So, with the help of our wonderful camping hosts, we ended up with a gallon bag of ice, five little glowsticks wedged into the center. Those glowsticks, and the rapidly melting ice, traveled all the way back from Indiana to DC with us. And now the glowsticks have been rescued from the water and they are in my freezer, where I am sure my daughter will check on them to ensure safe arrival.
But here's the thing. You can't really freeze glowsticks. The little glowsticks have some color left to them, but not a lot of shimmer. Somehow the whole, sweet thing felt like a giant metaphor to me: our deep and earnest desire to save what we love, what we treasure, and the reality that we never can, not really. That everything is transient--summertime, camping trips, life--and sticking it in the freezer will only leave us with a bag of cold water and tepidly colored sticks of plastic. So grab your glowsticks and run around like crazy with them, high over your head, symbol of summer. And then let them go. As the poet Carl Sandburg writes, "Gather the stars if you wish it so. Gather the songs and keep them. Gather the faces of women. Gather for keeping years and years. And then...Loosen your hands, let go and say good-by. Let the stars and the song go. let the faces and years go. Loosen your hands and say good-by."
Darling daughter, no ice will keep the glowsticks aglow forever. Hold them tight, then loosen your hands and say good-by.