By Julie Dieterle
I was listening to one of my favorite programs A Way with Words, on Public Radio recently and was inspired by symbolism and imagery we use to represent creativity and new ideas. I remember seeing the Winter issue of Conscious Community when many articles spoke about the role light plays in winter and during Christmas. These “sparked” me to explore. It seems, according to journalist, Nicholas Graham Platt, early depictions of Edison’s light bulbs were drawn in the newspapers as brightly lit in a dark background. The bulb came to stand for all of Edison’s inventive prowess.
In 1924, Felix the Cat cartoons began to use the “mental bubble” to hold ideas and images that were often taken out of the bubble and used as props. The animated light bulb began to be used to represent a “bright idea.” Geetesh Bajaj, in another article, noted that googling “bright idea” brought up the image of a lit lightbulb exclusively. She notes that it has become a “visual cliché”. She explored even further—noting that it also represents illumination in a dark room; small bulbs are used to represent joy and happiness during festive seasons; information and enlightenment on topics; radiance and warmth.
This is sounding familiar—illumination, light and warmth? My curiosity took me back in history. How were these concepts shown? How about the sun? Egyptians worshiped RA, the sun god. Could this even date back to our sudden command of fire and humanity’s leap forward in ability to think? How about the crown with its jewels sparkling, the golden band in the yarmulke, the halo on the angel, the corona around holy personages? All seem to represent light in or around the head and having a connection to higher inspiration.
Interesting how light represents enlightenment. How about our phraseology such as “the light came on”, “the light dawned on me,” “I see the light,” “I had a sudden thought that came like lightening.” Have you had an “aha!” moment?
As technology expands, we now have the ability to see neurological activity in the brain—and guess what—it appears as bright sparks of light. Our brain lights up. We also see that when there is deterioration of our mental abilities, the brain activity slows, and is less active, with fewer synapses lighting up fewer connections are made.
As a baby and child, we are like sponges, taking in experiences, sensations, sounds and sights. Children “pick things up” so easily, such as learning languages. Our pool of neurons begins to select paths, turning others off, so we form repetitive patterns like walking, forming a library of words. Our experiences get repeated over and over and become habits. As we age the pathways we use and are familiar with get reinforced. It takes time and effort and repetition and EXPOSURE TO NEW IDEAS to grow and change. Curiosity and inspiration feed our Souls and keep our minds more malleable. This keeps all of us aging adults vital and interested in life, connected and inspired. Have you had a new idea today?