Leave the Light On

I was on a road trip with my wife recently. We are wiser now and only cover about 600 kilometres each day. And we share a significant overlap in musical appreciation.

On the trip, I noticed several songs that referenced outdoor porch lights. Some were from the perspective of the homeowner letting her loved one know that she’ll ‘Leave the light on,” while others were requesting that the porch light be left on.

That got me thinking.

What are the messages behind this simple act of leaving a light on for an absent loved one?

I came up with a few ideas: I miss you, I can’t wait to be with you, I love you, safe travels, I value our relationship, and so on.

It differs from offering coffee as a universal, western cultural expression of welcome.

I think it might have to do with the element of light in the darkness. From one perspective, it implies the loved one may be reluctant to return home, and the porch light sends a clear message of welcome. The other perspective suggests a yearning to get home to safe ground. Seeing that light in the distance can be reassuring to the person.

I briefly mentioned the offer of a coffee that implies so much with that beverage. ‘Let’s go for coffee.” is common – even when some group members order tea. Nobody stops to correct the offer. It is accepted as an offer to be together to talk. ‘The coffee is always on’ may be accurate, but the message is that you are always welcome at my home.

Everything I know about British life I learned from Coronation Street. Well, not really, but I did learn that it is a common and expected practice to bring grapes to patients in the hospital. Nobody checks to see if they like grapes.  You just bring them on your visit. Nobody mentions that a van of family members just left, and the patient is overwhelmed with grapes. The implied message is simply that I care about you.

Please give this a bit of a think. What simple acts can you think of that apply to you that have a strong and clear message associated with the action? Do any readers have ideas from different cultures?

I’m curious about your thoughts. Please share your bit of a think in the comment section below. It will come to me for approval before posting.

Photo by Jarrod Reed on Unsplash

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