Waiting for that light to turn on

Leaving my class around 5:15 pm, I looked up to see the ever-beautiful Philadelphia City Hall, a sharp contrast against the twilight-y cloudy sky. The iconic clock light wasn’t on, so I reached for my phone to take a picture of this anomaly. Just as I had positioned my phone perfectly to document the moment, the light turned on.

I saw the City Hall light turn on.

One second it was off, and the next second it was on. This may sound like a very tiny, insignificant detail. To me, though, actually noting the instant when the light was off and seeing the light turned on was dramatic – noteworthy, even. I looked around, wondering if anyone else had noticed this blink-and-miss phenomenon. Everyone seemed to be looking at phones or down at the sidewalk.

I’m sure that the City Hall lights are programmed to turn on at the same time every night. Electricity has been around for a while now, and being the city of Ben Franklin, that city hall clock light probably is old news.

But it got me thinking about the process it takes to make something happen.

We tend to only notice things when the proverbial light turns on, but getting to that point where something is beautiful and note-worthy is the part that most of us would probably like to skip over. I’m sure that the road to electricity discovery wasn’t easy (and I won’t pretend to be an expert). The same can be said of working on a new project, starting a new business, working on that promotion, finishing that dissertation, or getting a new job.

To the rest of the world, it may seem like one minute it’s not there, and then, the next minute it is. You know the truth.

You know all about the long hours you’ve spent working, the self-doubt that inevitably creeps in along the way, the times where you feel like stopping out of sheer frustration, and the times where you wonder just why you started in the first place. Of course, when that light turns on, it’s easy to forget about all that, to let the brightness and shininess overshadow what came before.

So today, if you’re reading this, and you’re somewhere in the middle of that process to get that darned light to turn on, I want to tell you that what you’re doing is worth it. Yes, maybe the rest of the world won’t notice until that golden glow is firmly in place.

But there’s a reason why the middle of each story map (the twists and turns, the obstacles and challenges) is what every book and movie focuses on (thank you, Brené Brown, for highlighting that in Rising Strong).

The middle is the most interesting and dynamic part.

That’s the part where you learn those important life lessons, where you dig deep and find out what you’re really made of, where you connect with people in the most profound ways, and where you have your adventures. If Anne and Gilbert had gotten together right away, would it have mattered as much? If Harry had defeated he-who-must-not-be-named in the first book, would we have read the subsequent six? Would we still tune in every week if Fitz and Olivia had found a way to make it work? (Alright, I admit I might be in the minority of those who still watch Scandal, but you get my point).

Trust me, I get it. Most days I desperately want to skip the middle and get to that point where I can hold up that shiny light and say, “Look everyone, I did it!” But that, my dear Storyologist readers, simply wouldn’t be my true story. And the true stories are always the best ones.

What light are you working towards? Tell us in the comments below, and we'll cheer you on.