The Importance of Patience

An image of the Milky Way taken from a friend's cottage: July 9th, 2020.

The long bend in the impossibly dark night. A narrow road angles through the forests under an overcast, midnight sky. There is no light, no color, no vision as the road streams like a sinusoidal wave through the surrounding invisible expanse. Trees stand on either side of the road, manifesting themselves through their small quivers in the light wind. 

    There were no stars, no moons, no meteors in the sky. It was as if God himself had blanketed the starry sky in an unconquerable sheet, segregating the light of the stars from the dark of the lands.

    Below the stars, above the lands, a young man, evident only in the light noises his shoes make as they touch the ground, walks on that narrow road; he feels, hears and tastes, but sees nothing.

    I steady upon this road, blind, invisible, alone. As I reach a small overpass, a bridge above a stream, I see a small, flickering light, perhaps several miles away, in the valley below. A streetlamp, perhaps, so bright yet so distant. Except for that small, obscure, unreachable light, all remained dark.

    Standing upon the overpass, I stare at that light. It is so randomly placed, so far down that valley (is it even a valley?); I see no means to progress towards it. I cannot fathom its obscurity, its contrast from the dark of the terrain and the shadow of the night – the light, the night, the stark, the dark, all diametrically opposed to one another; right and left, distant and close, inevitable and impossible. 

    I focus now on the fixture, coruscant light against an expanse of dark, purveyor of hope against the perpetrator of despair, brighter than the sun itself, and watch it illuminate the surrounding trees.

    I see it begin to flicker. It flickers again. And again. Every second now. It flickers constantly, contrasting itself with itself – dark against light, light against dark.

    I see it flicker so irregularly and so rapidly until it flickers once more and sheds its final light. Good Lord, its light is so remarkably bright! I see, in that instant, my surroundings. I am sitting upon a ledge, seventy feet above a narrow river that flows in a straight path toward a valley a mile or so distant. Several bluffs, tall enough to be mountains, rounded at their apotheoses, rise behind me. The light stands in the middle of the valley, perhaps only a few feet above the trees. The road I stand on is the only road from horizon to horizon, a single curve through an encompassing density of green.

    The orange lamps fill the overcast sky with a circumambient orange light, consistent, bright, and reflecting back to the ground, making the ground brighter, redder, and dirtier.

    I see myself. My hands are rough, reddened, cracked and dry. I am wearing a tanktop and dirty shorts, dark socks and battered, ripped up shoes.

    Only an instant later, the final flicker dies out, extinguishing itself as I stare at my torn shoes.

    And all is dark again. No longer visible are the bridge beneath me, the stream below me, the bluffs behind me, the trees around me. No longer do I see the light, even the flickering light, the aureate star in a dark expanse of nothing, shining above the trees in the valley. No longer evident are the trees which surround that light. All is dark, darker than it was: lightless, without light; despair, without hope; death, without life.

    I stare, shocked, into a space of nothing. I look up, and see nothing. That light, the first of its kind, the only light I had ever seen, has now passed, leaving in its tracks a planet, a rock, a stone devoid of light. 

    I can remember walking into that overpass. I could feel the wind, undisturbed by the blockades of trees, brushing into me with its full, unmitigated force. I remember feeling an openness, hearing the rippling water and the naked wind, smelling the sap, the must, the dew. 

    As I saw the light, I paused. I placed myself upon the ledge and stared at it, without respite, for several hours. Once I began to see it, I saw no flickering, no change in its magnitude – except that it felt brighter, coursing through my veins, my eyes, my heart with gradually greater ferocity. Several days after I began watching the light, it began to flicker rapidly, and I knew that its death meant the end – perhaps temporary, perhaps eternal – to something grand. 

    I witnessed the bright ending to its great demise. I saw it flicker into a brilliant light, grow dim, and fade into darkness. 

    I am here now, remaining at this hallowed spot, urging the light to flicker and brighten again. I am despondent, unnerved, depressed, desperate, clinging onto a light which no longer exists. I can see only the sea of darkness beyond me; I hear again the wisps of the wind and the flows of the stream, smell again the dew, the forest, the must. 

    I settle and understand the thoughts and emotions that dominated my mind once the light was reduced to dark, imagining again the landscape that I saw so strikingly during the light’s final flicker. 

    I see something that I had not previously registered. In that final moment, there was not a singular light, but rather hundreds, even thousands of small bulbs dotting the landscape. They covered the valleys, the rivers, the bluffs, and the trees. They flickered ever so slightly as the brightest let out its last light, exploding and diminishing in symphony with the brightest.

    I wonder, now, if the lights will flicker back on. There are thousands of them, collectively bright enough to turn this midnight orb into a sunlit landscape. 


Perhaps all the bulbs need to flicker on again is a bit of electricity. 

    There must be cords that connect the lights together, considering they flickered together and died together; I need to find one, cut it so that the metal is exposed, and wait, patiently, for an unlikely surge of power (perhaps a lightning strike?).

    I searched around for several hours in the dark, feeling the brush for a cord – the lights must be connected by some cord, right?     

    It seemed as if I had traveled a mile, descended a quarter of a mile, and felt through an entire forest by the time I, by the most miraculous standards, felt a small rubber line, unquestionably a narrow cord, connecting one bulb to the other bulbs. 

    The cord feels smooth against my swollen, blistered hands.

    I felt around for a jagged object and found a small, pointed rock, maybe a few inches in width. I pushed the sharp portion of the rock against the cord, struggling to open a large enough hole in it without piercing the conductor. 

    I continued, without luck, for several more minutes before I chose to consider another strategy.

    It is not working, but I must be patient. I must have the faith that I will pierce the cord, get that strike of lightning to provide electricity to the lights, and get the lights to turn on. Let me try holding the sides of the cord on my lap and piercing the cord with the rock.

    After a few tries, the new strategy worked – I managed to pierce a two- or three-inch hole in the cord, exposing the metal wires inside. I cut around either end of the cord at its ripped ends, releasing the rubber from the cord. The metal was now entirely exposed to any lightning strikes that hit it.

    If this fails, I shall forever live in darkness.

    I have no other means of hope. I live in this pitch black abyss, devoid of light, wonder, creation, unable to find a light, or even to find a way to fix a light. I rely on a distant hope, drawn from a distant possibility, to bring light from dark, clarity from indiscernibility, euphoria from anguish.

    I cannot guarantee that the cord even connects to the lights. I cannot be sure that even the lightning itself, in the most unlikely event that it strikes the metal, will even spark a current, spread electricity to all the lights, and add day to this most midnighted world. 

    But what else do I have? I either wait for the unlikely, or I succumb to the inevitable; I either wait for light, or I languish in darkness. 

    And so I choose patience – a hard-to-maintain patience – and hope – even false hope – over darkness and despair. Into this heart of darkness I go, drawn to patience, blinded by hope, awaiting a conflagration of light to set upon this world.

    The minutes blend into hours; the hours to days; the days to months; and the months to years. I stand upon that ledge, lay upon that ledge, sleep upon that ledge, seeing nothing and experiencing nothing.

    The only proof of the inevitable passage of time is the river, which dribbles, flows, steadies down the mountain in a perfect, unyielding passage. I find myself listening to the water, studying the tiniest oscillations in its noises, and figuring the advancing of its curve, the positions of its banks, and the inconsistencies of its floor. 

    I am beginning to memorize even the bridge and the road, in its ever constant, unwavering course, absolutely invisible yet so vividly concrete. I count my steps from the two opposite side barriers, felt for the median… double lines, colorless, yellowless, invisible on this dark planet. I walk endlessly back and forth across the bridge. I find the ends of the barriers on each side and run the bridge from end to end, brushing the rough concrete with my fingers as I cross. 

    And such passed my time for months, years, centuries, eternity unknown, undetermined by the light of the sun or the passing of the day. I never saw a single flash of lightning, despite feeling an impossible amount of rain.

    Yet I stand there, walk there, jog there, run there, patiently awaiting the impossible, drawing my number in a lottery of light. I am childish, full of hope, devoid of fear, awash with excitement, lacking despair. The small hole in that massive, perhaps hundred-mile-long cord, waits blissfully for a shot of electricity.

    The constant wind flows indefatigably and unwaveringly against me. Even the trees, where the winds presumably are blocked and mitigated, quiver with an inexplicably constant noise; there is no shaking, no tapping noises, nothing. It is only a reflection of the existing wind – louder and denser with the rigor of the wind crashing into the trees, yet indistinguishable in its tone.

    I’m living in a beautiful, fireless hell. I am tortured under the eternal progression of life, yet I have no sight, few means to pass my time, no life to live, and nothing to connect with. I am sad, euphoric, stressed, relieved, impatient, patient, every single day. A rippling of emotions, swinging like the trees in the wind (which I, of course, cannot see), blinds me further than I am blinded, pushes me into a cavern of abject insanity. I need light! Be patient.

    All wait. All are quiet. All are patient. I can hear only my thoughts, smell only the sap of the nearby pine trees, and feel only the concrete on my hands.

    Suddenly, as if God had responded to my need, I saw a distant light flash and, almost thirty seconds later, heard a small rumble of thunder. It was lightning!

    The distant storm and my distant hope grow closer, gathering with noise and beginning to make visible the lands I saw so lucidly an eternity ago. Lightning flashes, and I can see everything – the bluffs, the trees, the valley, the distant bulb of a lightless light. Thunder rumbles, and I can hear only it, an inconsistent rumbling drowning the constant wind.

    The lightning grew to a show, and the thunder to a fever pitch. Brilliant shards of light struck every second, followed by loud snaps of noise only moments later. Some of the strikes hit the ground. I assume the broken cord is near; oh please, lightning, strike the cord!

    As the lightning continues to strike the ground around me, I am forced to feel my way (and even to see my way) under the bridge. I sit at the very edge, almost standing on the forty-degree gradient, seeing occasionally below me the river, now a torrent of water rushing to the valley. 

    It was now pouring rain. The deafening noises of the thunder were matched with an equally deafening torrent of water, flowing like a waterfall from the overcast sky.

    The lightning continued, but struck at greater distance as the storm receded. No longer could I easily see the valley in front of me, or the river below me, and no longer did the lightning strike with vicious ferocity, only a few hundred feet distant. 

    The waterfall of water I described, too, softened to a drizzle. All again was cloudy, relatively quiet. Near inaudible thunder still hummed in the distance, and the ever consistent winds continued in their indefatigable course. 

    I felt my way back upon the bridge and lay down, despairing, plighting as I discovered that my plan had failed; the light had failed to ignite, and I still found myself stuck in a dark expanse, unable to live, unable to move. 

    I am a prisoner upon a vastly large stone, unrestrained by nothing but light itself. And yet that singular restraint, so insignificant among the many of life’s restraints, restricts even my smallest movement, blinds me, shows me not the world or any other human life.

    As the rain stopped, I felt myself crying. So long have I patiently awaited this night, so much have I toiled for the impossible to become possible, that the close miss has left me despondent, hopeless, absolutely sad. This was my final chance. Lost, gone, that chance is. No longer will I see light, or even have hope that I would, one day, see light.

    Yet, the same false hope sparks conflagration in my mind. Patience. Patience. Patience, repeated, enumerated, engraved in the very core of my brain, continues inexorably, outgunning my despair and forcing itself to my focus. Something tells me that if I continue my patience, I will see the light of day.

    My false hope, drowning in the low waters of darkness, found itself a stone of hope, as I saw among the near invisible clouds an even darker expanse. I could see, in that break, a star, a bright star, a shard of light against the shades of dark, smaller and more significant than the collected light of the bulbs I tried to ignite, beaming in the sky, signaling the end – the true, ultimate end – to darkness.

A star,


Burns near the horizon

The clouds part

The star rises

And more stars,


Begin to fill the sky

    A heart of darkness

    Once so invisible

    Bleeds a quiet reflection

    Of their light

    And the forest,

    The valley

    The bluff

    The road


    I see again

    The once omnipresent clouds exited with the thunderstorm, leaving in their decay a sky awash with stars, thousands of stars, pouring like drops of glitter into the sky, increasing in number and magnitude by the passing of every second. A brilliant way of haze glittered across the entire meridian, from southern to northern horizon, dispersing into canals of lesser haze, protruding from the main line like prickles on a rose bush, forming a brilliant rose stem of shimmering milk in the now cloudless sky.

    The way left a visible shadow upon the ground, illuminating even the silhouettes of the distant mountains, pencil tips against the flat horizon, all the way, those twenty or thirty miles, across the wide valley. The dividing lines in the road appeared a faded yellow, reflecting the light of the stars above. The nearby trees, too, were easily visible – pine, hickory, oak, ash – and I could see the foaming waters of the now vicious stream, overflowing with water and cascading with gravity, rolling down into the valley below.

    How many stars must that be? Thousands? Millions? I see a dipper, no, two dippers, in the north. A scorpion in the south. A large right triangle of three bright stars in the north. A swan. A staircase. An eagle. A lyre. Shapes, constellations, asterisms, which I have yet to see in my life, now present their beautiful light to me. 

    No clouds in the distance! No signs of an end to this light! No imminent reversion back to blindness!    

    I am loosened from my shackles, and I am free! I once languished on this very step, burning in an invisible valley of despair, unable to move, unable to breathe, the sweet fruit of freedom tasteless in my mouth. I now stand, jump, simmering with euphoria, moving freely throughout the road, the forest, and the plain, the spirits of freedom and life proliferating in my heart. I progress now with a torrent of bliss, traversing the bends of the great road, leaving behind me the bridge and the river and the valley, the forests and the yellow lines and the bluffs. I linger, vagrantly, along the road, searching, again, for the everlasting, magnificent touch of another human, collapsing the barrier to the prison of the dark. O’ stars, eviscerators of the eviscerating hood of darkness, remain above me, let your light flow through my blood, promulgate it to the very corners of my toes, spread it to the deepest nuclei of my brain and my heart; O’ light, bring your golden language to every atom, every unit of flesh in my small body!

    I waited, patiently, without reserve, insatiably devoted to the hope – however blind or ridiculous it was – that the invisible would turn visible. I spent perhaps a year, years, decades, centuries, at the bridge, waiting, blindly (in temperament and in reality) for the promises of an end to darkness. And, for the light is patient, kind, and true, mine eyes, after years of longing, saw the glory of its coming.

    I now walk on, step by step under a canopy of stars, restricted no more by a prison of blindness. I see the day ahead, a rising sun, never again to fall or folly, magnificently bright and overhead even as, in the distant future, the ultimate breath of my elderly body is released.

    I must confess to you all, my friends: this piece has nothing to do with light. I have told some of you that I call this an “allegory.” An allegory, by definition, is a “story, poem, or picture that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning.” The direct symbol, which is reasonably obvious (as reasonably obvious as can be made with my still amateur and inexperienced writing), is the role of patience in bringing to us the riches of life, love, and success, or in the case of the unnamed narrator, light.

    Many essayists tend to build their essays to be a reflection of some node, some facet of their lives. The narratives, however fictional or unrealistic they may be, often reflect, represent, or even describe a sequence of events in their lives. Although I am no essayist, the essay above does, indeed, reflect, represent, and even, to a limited extent, describe a sequence of events in my life. The dark does not represent depression or languish; rather, it describes the normality of a life with which I am still discontented, yet about which I am not unhappy. The light does not represent an end to depression or languish; rather, it describes the lifting of my life from a normal life to a euphoric one.

    I cannot, unfortunately, describe to you all the specifics of this narrative, beyond the simple symbol. The final portion of the essay is largely theoretical, relying almost entirely on faith in the future (so, essentially, those events have yet to occur, and may never occur). The rest represent a sequence of events, a sequence so impactful on me that it inspired me to write a story examining and even recreating it.

    I thank you all, again, for clicking and reading through the text. Your enamor with my writing invigorates me to the very depths of my soul and poisons my blood with everlasting, continuous torrents of emotion and love.