I met a new friend on the morning train commute to the city last February. On this March morning, our regular casual conversation started quite normally.
I related a story to her about a blackout at home due to a thunderstorm the previous evening. As daylight turned to darkness, I searched the house for some light that didn’t require electricity. It came to me that I had a torch light app on my iPhone and that I also had a torch in the car for emergencies.
She then asked, “don’t you have any candles?” I said no as I didn’t see the need for them as other forms of artificial, battery operated light served the same purpose. “Why do I need candles?”. She then offered something quite profound and thought provoking.
“A candle is a candle”, she said. After a quizzical look and a moment, she shared more.
“It’s not just light that a candle provides. It’s the experience of lighting it to give it its power. It’s the beauty of the flame ignited and present. It’s the smell of the wax burning and the scent of its essence. It’s the puffs of smoke rising and its ability to light the most darkened space. It’s about extinguishing the flame with the promise of lighting it, again and again. It’s also about their symbolism and meaning, from the sadness of holding them to honour those who have passed to celebrating a birthday by blowing them out for each passing year.”
Wow. That’s when I got it. Technology can replace a function but struggles to replicate and enhance a full, meaningful human experience.
A candle is indeed a candle.
Thank you for “enlightening” me, Ania. You are a candle.