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Reading – Let’s Go To the Lighthouse!


Books are Lighthouses erected in the great sea of time – Edwin P. Whipple

For as far back as I can remember I have loved reading and books were often a gateway into undiscovered imaginary landscapes and exotic places that fed into my constant habit of daydreaming.  As a skinny little girl with thick glasses and a voracious appetite for reading, when I was not out playing with my friends,  I spent many a holiday afternoon curled up in the shade reading a book.

I started with the usual children’s books – stories of adventure and the classics, which were required reading at school, and as my horizons expanded, I discovered that there was an endlessly fascinating amount of literature and knowledge to be consumed by my enquiring mind. One of the books that I found rather thought provoking was Virgina Woolf’s “To the Lighthouse”.  It is a story of a family torn apart by the death of the mother and how each one gradually finds their way back to a discovery of who they are, their identity amidst strife, and eventually to acceptance of themselves.

What fascinated me was the  lyrical flow of  actions and thought, where the visible became invisible and the invisible took form through metaphors throughout the novel.  Virginia Woolf had an unusual style that often traced her thoughts from one idea to another- it was as though she listened to herself think and captured every thought in words that spun a web of enchantment for me as the thoughts described were often my own although the circumstances that framed the thought were quite different.

If today I am able to see wisdom in a variety of situations and metaphors that present themselves in my life,  it is because of  a mind that has been formed by reading and moulded by the thoughts and styles of many many brilliant authors who expressed themselves beautifully in words. And in so doing have left an imprint on minds that were born many generations later.

We are told to let our light shine, and if it does, we won’t need to tell anybody it does. Lighthouses don’t fire cannons to call attention to their shining. They just shine – Dwight L.Moody

Our reading forms our minds and our thoughts form our character and lead to actions that could result in a better life for ourselves and for those around us. We have expanded our reading to encompass books , as well as magazines, newspapers, and the Internet. Our choice of reading, the companions we surround ourselves with. will continue to influence our lives in many ways even though we may forget where we read it or who wrote it!

And who has not heard the oft repeated Lighthouse joke that periodically surfaces to make the e-mail  rounds to brighten many a weary office worker.

Here it is for your edification, it still makes me laugh!

This is the actual radio conversation (released by the chief of naval operations) of a US naval ship with Canadian authorities off the coast of Newfoundland in October 1995.

CANADIANS: “Please divert your course 15 degrees to the south to avoid a collision”

AMERICANS: “Recommend YOU divert your course 15 degrees to the north to avoid a collision”

CANADIANS: “Negative. You will have to divert your course 15 degrees to the south to avoid a collision”

AMERICANS: “This is the captain of a US Navy ship. I say again, divert YOUR course”

CANADIANS: “No, I say again, you divert your course”

AMERICANS: “This is the Aircraft Carrier USS LINCOLN, the second largest ship in the United States Atlantic Fleet. We are accompanied with three Destroyers, three Cruisers and numerous support vessels. I DEMAND that you change your course 15 degrees north. I say again, that’s one-five degrees north, or counter-measures will be undertaken to ensure the safety of this ship”

CANADIANS: “This is a LIGHTHOUSE. Your call”

 There are various accounts that this is a fabricated joke and not really based in fact. It does not matter – the question is which type of  lighthouse do we encounter in our daily lives- the type that shine or the type we crash against ? What does that say about ourselves?

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Categories : Literature


  1. Faith 'Freelance' Hill says:

    Fascinating…and I agree pretty much with everything. Keep up the good work…I will certainly be back shortly

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