The Guilt and Shame of Leaving the Lights On

light switch

It’s a routine, a habit, a tic perhaps. Every day the same thing.

A small light at the far end of the kitchen signals the outside lights are on and every morning, seeing it, I am drawn through the dining room and across the length of the kitchen to the far end, to turn them off, but then…

Peering out and seeing no hint of daylight on the eastern horizon,
I leave the lights on.

From somewhere deep in the recesses comes a voice.
“Turn off the lights! Don’t you know what electricity costs?”

But I can’t do it. The road is just so dark.

“Turn them off! There’s nobody out there.”

BUT there might be, you never know.
Someone walking a dog before leaving for work
someone walking to catch a ride,
a kid with a backpack hurrying to meet the high school bus,
though that’s 7 o’clock.
(You can set your watch by that bus,
just not on snow days.)

“Your one puny light? Not making that much difference.”
Probably true, but….

I have walked in the dark
and know what it is to be glad for every porch light

and strive to get to the next one,
to get my bearings,
to keep going,

and I’ve been grateful for every person
who left one on
when they didn’t even know I was out there

I wrestle this through every morning,
this same decision,
then take my coffee
and go sit to write
until the sky lightens.

All these voices are old hat to writers. 🙂

About Marilyn

Reading, thinking, listening, writing and talking about faith, creativity, ESL for refugees, grief and finding the story in a story. Student of Spanish. Foe of procrastination. Cheez-it fan. People person with hermit tendencies or vice-versa. Thank you so much for reading.
This entry was posted in compassion, habit, writing. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Guilt and Shame of Leaving the Lights On

  1. “I have walked in the dark and know what it is to be glad for every porch light…” LOVE those words, Marilyn! Writing them down on a pink heart Post-It note and tucking them into my heart. ❤


  2. Fern Boldt says:

    I’m so glad for the “porch lights” that were left on for me. I’m home safely now!


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