Guiding Light

All the way home on my drive back from Las Vegas, the afternoon light was doing interesting things.

Around the California/Nevada border, it was high overhead. Sunny. Bright. Positive. Beautiful. Something about the way it cast shadows made them seem playful, not cautionary. Traffic, surprisingly, was light for a Sunday. People were heeding the speed limit.

Towards Baker, small clumps of dense clouds started to band together and diffuse the rays. The light felt a bit eerie, and drivers were starting to get anxious and agitated; they seemed to want to get home as soon as possible, but so did I. And I was hoping everyone would just relax so that we could all get there safely.

After Barstow, the sun was low in the western sky and neither visor nor my sunglasses could effectively block it. It urged me to take even more care in my driving, since the gold light was as piercing as a needle. Moments later, nearly on cue, two cars collided in the lane next to me. I wondered if one of them had been blinded by the sun.

At the Cajon Pass, low, dense gray clouds made for conditions that looked a bit like fog. It’s one of the more treacherous parts of the drive, as the steep grade and home stretch aspect mean people can fly home to the flatlands below at breakneck speed…not always a good thing. Pile-ups have happened there, trains have derailed, brakes overheat, trucks turn runaway — but today the sun was conspicuously out of sight at one of the more tense parts of the journey. Its perfectly-timed absence couldn’t have been better scripted.

Meeting the 91 freeway at the 15, the clouds parted and a saffron-hued warmth filled my vision. It was as though a welcome home carpet was being rolled out, and this particular light was also very telling. For a freeway that can be jammed for miles, there was none for the rest of my almost 30 miles home.

If you couldn’t tell, I found today’s light to be mysteriously delightful, full of quiet communication and comforting for my five-hour drive home. I am thankful for its presence, its strange connection with the goings-on along the highways and for its guiding properties.

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