19 November, 2021

Lighting for the Lazy

There's a phenomenon that occurs only to the lazy, like myself. I'd like to share it here so that go-getter types could also know of the experience.

Each room in my house has several lights. In the master bathroom, a half dozen lightbulbs are just above the mirror; in the kitchen, several inset ceiling lights help to illuminate my cooking; in the main room, flush mounts and floor lamps predominate. When the house was first moved into, all of these fixtures held working lights. But, as time passes, light bulbs fail. I could replace them. But why bother? The other lights work well enough without them.

How many lights?
One by one over the years, a light bulb will peter out, never again to provide lumens for our nighttime activities. To some people, this would be intolerable; but, to me, what does it matter, really? I usually keep all the lights off in the daytime anyway, thanks to several large windows throughout the house. A small nightlight keeps the bathrooms visible with no windows installed. And at night, the only light I need is that from my computer screen. Or my television set. Or my Switch. (My partner, an artist, requires extremely bright light, but it is solely directed toward her art-making, and isn't on unless she's working.)

Eventually, rooms with several light fixtures get down to their last working light bulb. One day, they, too, will break, and work will have to get done. I will have to purchase new light bulbs and replace the entire rack. But light bulbs these days last years, so I am not too worried. The day will assuredly come, but perhaps not this year. Perhaps not even next year.

Here, we teeter on the edge. Where once our rooms were bright, now the occasional flicker catches my attention. On some days, this is exciting. It is living on the edge. I feel as though I am in a dramatic video game, stalking the halls of a long disused factory, with only a few scattered lights still functional. On other days, it feels emblematic of our general aging: slowly, we are shutting down, the prime of our light long past.

My home isn't as bad as this real hospital.
What's weird about this is that I've experienced this scenario several times in my life. I can remember clearly in my twenties feeling this same emblematic-of-aging gestalt, even as I feel it now. I don't think it has anything at all to do with my actual age. It's just that I have a dim memory of the rooms being brighter, and yet now they are so poorly lit that, although life is still functional, the experience of the room has an entirely different feeling to it. What's really fascinating is what happens after: when the last of the bulbs goes off in a room, that gets me to replace all the bulbs in the house. The change is quite literally palpable: you can feel in your fingertips just how much more bright everything is. The mood changes significantly. Life renews, like an early Spring day.

I don't think that non-lazy types can really fully appreciate how this feels. I am told that pumpkin spice has popularity specifically because it goes away and only comes back once each year. (I don't see the appeal, but to each their own.) Something similar is going on here for me, but on somewhat larger time scales. I enjoy the feeling of going from almost no lighting to full lighting. It is reinvigorating in a way that just keeping full lighting all the time is not. I like how the house undergoes seasons of its own, sometimes with dark shadows in particular corners, and yet other times with lighting all around, illuminating every corner to see. It is as though the house is a living, breathing thing, its breaths interspersed throughout years rather than seconds, and with lighting rather than gasps of air.

Being lazy has its drawbacks. But this — the effect over years from delaying replacing light bulbs — is not one of them.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go install all these bulbs I just received from Amazon.

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