To the Lighthouse

illustration of feet in charcoal
Strange connections happen if you let them.

Last night, I watched a film called ‘The Light Between Oceans’, and it was sad and funny and sexy and romantic and I cried and cried (no surprises there). Mr Murray is away again; I’ve got free rein on all the weepy movies.

It was about a lighthouse keeper and his love, who became his wife, who wanted a child.

In the film, tragedy strikes, as it must. And then, bizarre opportunity arrives on a shipwrecked boat, and the pair are faced with an awful decision – which will have consequences, of course. What will they choose? And how will they live with their choice, once made?

It was good – maybe not as good as the book, but all the same, worth watching. It made me late to bed.

The most compelling thing about the film for me was that the couple live on an island, all alone in the lighthouse.

It pulled at me, because I often feel like I live alone in a lighthouse on an island too.

Maybe that’s because ideas turned into paintings and writings have to start from some place of isolation. You do after all, have to carefully tend the light of creativity and keep it burning. You have to nurture the first glowing lightbeams of an idea growing in your brain, bring it out of nowhere, usually by yourself, and in utter quietness if you’re lucky. You have to examine it from all sides and understand how it’s going to work. You have to test its brightness. And then you have to spend days and days doing the actual work to bring it to being, all by yourself, and then regularly shining it out so other people can see it. Maybe your light is a comfort, or maybe it’s a warning. Does it matter?

Not everyone could tend the light, and some people would go mad in the trying. But someone has to do it. Someone has to live in a lighthouse on an island.

It may as well be me. I’m quite suited to it.

So with all that lighthouse thinking in my head, I set out this morning to Kevin’s studio. I got up late too, as well as going to bed late, so I’d quickly piled my hair up on my head in a scruffy bundle. It looked, so I was told, like Virginia Woolf.

Which reminded me of her book To The Lighthouse – a  book I’ve never quite figured out, though I’ve read it twice. Margaret Atwood wrote an article about it, which leaves me none the wiser, but she helpfully ends with this:

‘Some books have to wait until you’re ready for them.’

Quite so. I think that too. And perhaps – perhaps – with all these lighthouse coincidences, now is my time.



A little known fact about Virginia Woolf: she wrote (and drew) so much she actually wore out holes in her right sleeve. Luckily, it is her birthday soon. 🙂

2 Comments on “To the Lighthouse

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