This morning we opened at random All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr to this:

The brain is locked in total darkness, of course….It floats in a clear liquid inside the skull, never in the light. It brims with color and movement. So how, children, does the brain, which lives without a spark of light, build for us a world full of light?

Consider a single piece of glowing in your family’s stove. That chunk of coal was once a green plant, a fern or reed that lived, one million years ago, or maybe two million, or maybe one hundred million. Can you imagine one hundred million years? Every summer for the whole life of that plant, its leaves caught what light they could and transformed the sun’s energy into itself. Into bark, twigs, stems. Because plants eat light, in much the way we eat food. But then the plant died and fell, probably into water, and decayed into peat, and the peat was folded inside the earth for years upon years — eons in which something like a month or a decade or even your whole life was just a puff of air, a snap of two fingers. And eventually, the peat dried and became like stone, and someone dug it up, and the coal man brought it to your house, and maybe you yourself carried it to the stove, and now that sunlight —sunlight one hundred million years old — is heating your home tonight…

Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.


If you’ve found illumination, joy, or inspiration in this post, please consider supporting Improvised Life. It only takes a minute to make a secure donation that helps pay our many costs. A little goes a long way towards helping Improvised Life continue to live ad-free in the world.

Support Improvised Life ♥

2 replies on “Opened at Random: All the Light We Cannot See (How Light Comes From Darkness)

  1. This is a magnificent read.

  2. I just saw it in one of the “little neighborhood libraries” yesterday. I’d read it before, but thought how much I’d enjoyed it. Like meeting a friend.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *