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Lightbulb Moment

I was watching a murder mystery set in west Cork, and was captivated by glimpses of the iconic Fastnet Lighthouse. Designed to withstand the most savage Atlantic storms and guide ships safely home, I thought about how in pre-satellite days, the lighthouse was the first glimpse of dry land for sailors on the long, treacherous voyage home, a reassuring beacon of hope and safety.

I remember being just as fascinated by the Belle Tout Lighthouse at Beachy Head. It’s a hotel now perched on the rugged clifftops in an area with an intriguing history of smugglers and shipwrecks. I rushed home to paint it. As you may have noticed, Sunny has kept me delightfully busy lately. Now that he´s settled, I´ve picked up my brush again and last night I finished this painting of Fastnet Lighthouse, beaming its comforting light far across the vast Atlantic Ocean.

When I looked in my portfolio I realised to my surprise that lighthouses appear in many of my seascapes, painted, it would seem by an unconscious hand. I wasn´t even aware of them, which is strange because it´s a challenge to paint one upright without turning it into the leaning tower of Pisa.

I´ve been reluctant to put Sunny in his recommended crate during the day and shut the door on him. He didn´t like it much either and as my reluctance grew, so did his. My previous dogs were all free to chew the furniture and my shoes, and generally wreak havoc. But I’ve researched my new puppy carefully and it seems it’s better for both of us that he learns to enjoy being on his own, in his cosy space, knowing that he’s safe because I´ll always come back.

Animals pick up on our emotional states and I’ve been afraid of closing the door and shutting him in because he might cry and feel abandoned, and that would make me cry. But that’s anthropomorphism, treating my dog as if he were human. Just because I’m claustrophobic and can’t bear being confined, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he will be too. Dogs, of course, are much better at living in the moment than I am.

Like the lighthouse, life always brings those lightbulb moments when suddenly something I’ve been preoccupied with becomes crystal clear.

We went to visit Twiggy, Sunny’s glamorous sister for a puppy play date, and I watched as her mum closed the crate door without batting an eyelid. There was no fear or concern in her at all. For Della it was the most natural thing to do with her sleepy new puppy.

In that moment I could see my crate problem for what it was. When I separated my emotions from my puppy this morning, I closed the door for his nap and there was barely a whimper. So, it’s got nothing to do with Sunny at all.

A small unrelated thing, once illuminated by something seemingly unconnected, was a huge, liberating insight for me.

The Lighthouse reminds me not to struggle when I don’t understand something. Patience and trust that all will be revealed are all I need when life baffles me.

The bright light beaming across the turbulent waves has no off switch.

I am always guided safely home.

Marja Brown

Landscape Artist

Belle Tout Lighthouse, Lighthouse at the Harbour Entrance and Lighthouse at the Clifftop as seen, and more original paintings and prints are available from my website.

Commissions undertaken with joy.

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