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The Story of Brilliant Light by Luke O'Neill

November 24, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Sea Kayaks to BedSea Kayaks to Bed

Sunset on Clark Island in the San Juan Islands, Washington


Heading into the mountains near Asheville, North Carolina with my friend Doc Klein back in 1992, I relaxed in the passenger seat while Doc weaved his way along the winding mountain road towards our climbing objective for the day, The Breakfast Flakes.  Out of nowhere, Doc tossed out a question, "What do you want?"  Not sure of where Doc was leading me, I hesitated for just a moment before offering, "A fun day of climbing...and you?"  But Doc shot back, "Me too, but...what do you want?"  Knowing Doc as I do, i.e., he has always been a thinking man who likes to provoke good conversation, I returned the last volley with, "I want to live in a barn.  Yes, I want to live in a barn that has been converted into a home."  Assuming that I adequately signaled my acceptance of Doc's invitation to take the conversation to a deeper level, I sat back with a smile.  Doc, however, was just getting started.  

In true Socratic form, Doc pressed me on my barn house idea.  "OK...but what will your 'barn house' do for you?" he asked.  Knowing that a simple "makes me happy" would not qualify as a sufficient response, I searched for a more suitable set of well-considered words to appease my good friend and climbing partner.  Eventually, I dived deep enough into my soul to arrive at the following: "The barn house represents simplicity, healthy, family, closeness to nature, and a sense of home."  Finally, Doc seemed relatively satisfied with my reply to his question.  However, Doc was still not through.  In fact, he now took the conversation to the crux of the climb, so to speak.  "So...if you were denied the chance to live in a 'barn house', but you could have all the feelings you just described, would you be OK with that?" he said with one of his knowing smiles.  

The point that Doc was making would soon become a powerful one in reshaping my approach to life.  Several weeks later, after reading Robert Fritz's The Path of Least Resistance on Doc's recommendation, I sat down on the floor of my log cabin home with a view to Table Rock Mountain to write down my best answer to Doc's original question, "What do you want?"  The effort required to put ink on paper proved to be more challenging than I could have imagined.  Tears flowed from deep in my emotional center as I probed what surely was uncharted territory.  In the next hour, I explored this new part of my soul to arrive at the following expression of what I want to experience on this grand journey.  I wrote...

Boldly Create Brilliant Light - 

  • The light of truth
  • The light of health
  • The light of wisdom
  • The light of love
  • The light of compassion
  • The light of intellect
  • The light of romance
  • The light of community
  • The light of poetry
  • The light of learning
  • The light of family
  • The light of humor
  • The light of perseverance

With this statement guiding me through the years that followed, it came at no surprise that photography became a passion, along with education.  Photography compels me to look for the light, whether that be through the lens of my camera, or through my work with students.  In the last few years, I have immersed myself in a yoga community where seeing the light in ourselves and others is a constant theme.  Life seems to have drawn me towards this idea of seeking the brilliant light that each of us carries inside of us.  I wonder if that is what prompted my parents to name me Luke, a name derived from the Latin word meaning, of course, light.

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