Goethe’s final words: “More light.” Ever since we crawled out of that primordial slime, that’s been our unifying cry: “More light.” Sunlight. Torchlight. Candlight. Neon. Incandescent. Lights that banish the darkness from our caves, to illuminate our roads, the insides of our refrigerators. Big floods for the night games at Soldier’s Field. Little tiny flashlights for those books we read under the covers when we’re supposed to be asleep. Light is more than watts and footcandles. Light is metaphor. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet.” “Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” “Lead, Kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom — Lead Thou me on! The night is dark, and I am far from home — Lead Thou me on!” “Arise, shine, for thy light has come.”
Light is knowledge. Light is life. Light is light.
That is, of course, from the “Northern Lights” episode of Northern Exposure. Maybe the best minute and a half of soliloquy ever on broadcast television.
Winter solstice is today or tomorrow, depending on where you live. Specifically, the maximum axial tilt occurs at 2230 Mountain time, or half past midnight for you east coasters.
Winter solstice marks the “shortest” day of the year, in terms of sunlight. But for anyone who cares about such statistics or observations, the “fastest” day of the year is about two weeks later, around January 3rd, when Earth goes through the perihelion and is hence orbiting the sun at its maximum velocity (conservation of angular momentum and all that).
So, if it feels as if you’re just trying to hang on during the hectic holiday season, it’s not just in your head — it’s astronomical geospatial relations. The days are short and fast, and we’re all spinning in a slightly different direction while simultaneously hurling through space at around 60,000 mph. Makes for one crazy holiday season. But also one sweet ride. Perspective, yeah?