Colored Lights And Clear Lights
By Steve Goodier
My college roommate and I decided to decorate our dormitory
bedroom. We thought that colored lights would be perfect. But
having none, we painted all of our light bulbs red. When we
switched the lights back on, the room shone with a dark and eerie
I learned a couple of things about painted light bulbs that
semester. I learned, first, that one can't study by eerie, red
lighting. Not that studying was the highest priority for college
freshmen, but the dark red bulbs were more of a distraction than
And very quickly I learned something else. Paint burns. Smoke
from our lamps and lighting fixtures sent us outside gasping for
Tinted bulbs may be nice to look at, but they don't cast much
light. We string colored lights as decoration. They are designed
to call attention to themselves, but never to light a room. We
might say, "Aren't they pretty?" Or we may say, "I see flashing
colored lights behind my car!" But we do not use them to illumine
Clear lights, on the other hand, show off all that is nearby. We
may aim a directional light at a wall and exclaim, "What a lovely
painting!" Or we might switch on the lights in our home and
comment, "What a dirty bedroom." Clear lights illumine the world
I wonder if people are like lights, too. Some seem to be colored
lights and draw attention to themselves. Others, the clear
lights, seem to shine on people in their midst.
We may say of one, "Isn't she smart? She always astounds me with
her brilliance." And of another we might say, "I always feel
better when he is around. He seems to know me. And he believes in
It is as if one shines so brilliantly that the room is filled
with a colorful, dazzling glow. But the other shines on those
nearby, clearly illuminating their goodness and virtues.
If I am to be a light in this world, I think I'll lose the paint.
Clear lights are best.
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