"Let there be light!"
It's the third line in the Bible...so I guess it must be important.
And perhaps at no time is it more important than right now, particularly in my hometown Montreal, where holiday lighting brightens up not just the skies that darken in mid-afternoon, but the collective mood that seems to deflate an hour or so earlier.
Every year, I find the effect amazing.
The wires and bulbs that almost invisibly intertwine with bare tree branches and shrubbery, that sneakily snake up buildings, or that are hidden behind sconces and structures perform a transformational feat of epic proportions, both physically and emotionally, pleasing the eye and the soul simultaneously.
Just last week, in the midst of a driving snowstorm, I was trudging from my office to a meeting (walking being the most efficient way of getting around), and despite the meteorological gloom, I couldn't help but be elevated by "Prismatica," a series of kaleidoscopic prisms spinning colors and ultimate glee in downtown's otherwise barren Quartier des Spectacles (see above!).
The "healing" power of light isn't wacky new age dogma; it's been proven in numerous scientific studies (on the flip side, lack of exposure to light, especially in winter months, is notorious for its links to depression, and is aptly acronym-ed SAD). And in a personal experience I will never forget, I saw the legendary George Burns, 97 at the time, shed three decades of age in a matter of seconds as he was helped from his wheelchair in the wings of the St. Denis Theatre and guided into a magic, revitalizing bath of spotlights waiting for him a few feet away on stage.
Nice sentiment, but where am I going with all this as per this week's lesson?
Well, one thing I can't help but thinking is why we do this type of festival illumination primarily at Christmas time? True, there are bright decorations for Valentine's Day, Thanksgiving and most notably Halloween, but it's not the same thing. Far from it, actually.
With the technology and the artistry available...
It's somewhat strange that nobody has come up with signature lighting looks for other times of the year
...maybe even a new one every month.
Indeed, the lights of summer would be more frivolous and have a different feel from those more necessary and therapeutic in winter, but still, given the uplifting spiritual effect of Christmas luminosity, it seems a major missed opportunity not to try and replicate it for other annual events at other times in the calendar.
Shakespeare said that "All the world's a stage." (As an aside, can you believe a blog post quoting both God and Shakespeare? But I digress...) If that is indeed the case, let's hear it for the season's lighting directors.
And let's give them a few more seasons to work with.