The discontent ray of sunshine

There once was a ray of sunshine not seen by any person, creature or plant. Every morning he would wake up early and ask the sun, “Please sun, let me shine on something important today. Let me shine on the Great Wall of China so that tourists can see it. Let me shine on a scientist about to make an influential discovery. Let me shine on a great or famous person. Let me be that ray of light that tells an egg its ready to hatch. Let me light up a photograph before it is taken. Dear sun, please please please.”

The sun didn’t have a lot of time for this ray of sunshine.

“You’re a ray of sunshine and you need to work with all the other billions of rays of sunshine. You need to shine more and talk less. There’s no reason for you to be discontent. You are the road that brings my light to the earth. I am the light and only I choose where to put you. You must stop questioning this.”

The ray of sunshine understood what the sun was saying. He loved working with all his brothers and sisters bringing light to the world. This made him happy. One ray of sunshine would not be strong enough to light up the whole Great Wall of China, not that he had ever seen it. But this was not enough to satisfy him. The ray thought, “The sun is so busy. How can it be right about everything?”

This ray of sunshine did not have a plan. He just had an unhappy feeling inside him because he wanted to shine brighter and longer. So many plants die for lack of sunlight, so many children forget their mittens, their fingers left cold. Why does the sun go down all night long?

“If only I could choose for myself where and when to shine,” the ray thought. “This would be the best way to help everyone.”

That night the ray only pretended to go to sleep. He made the same breathing sounds he imagines he makes while sleeping in order to deceive the others. It was very hard to stay awake; his light would dim, his eyes would close; then he would remember his desire and quickly wake up again. After a long, long time he crept out of his ray-bed and looked around.

All his ray brothers and sisters were lined up sleeping. This ray’s light was shining quite brightly, but flashing a little, as if it was unsure of what to do. He decided to ignore the flashing and began to float down toward the earth. It was quite a strange feeling for him being alone in space, drifting in blackness. The ray could not tell whether he was getting closer to the earth or not. Finally, he saw earth. At first it was as small as a baseball, but soon in front of him were it’s oceans, it’s white mists and it’s mountains. Slowly he began to see houses and roads, streetlights and signs. The ray felt strange. Although he had seen earth every day since he was born, he felt like this was not the same earth that he has always known. “Something’s different,” he thought. He pushed this thought away and looked down at his body. His light was dimming and sometimes flashed off and on like a lightbulb. His body felt stiff and hard to move around in. “It’s probably because I’m so used to having other rays around me,” thought this discontent ray of sunshine. “That’s why something feels wrong. And besides, I’ve come so far. I don’t want to give up.”

This is when the ray started to forget why he had come down to the earth all by himself at night in the first place. He had dreamed about this moment, but in it, felt lost. “Remember how much you wanted this,” he told himself, “Now is your time to shine. Find something that needs light and do your work.”

The first place he found himself in was a quiet town. He scared a cat sleeping on a porch, who hissed at him and waved her tail defiantly. “I was trying to help you!” he thought, feeling his body tighten. It became difficult to shine light. He flew back into the sky. But the night was still and morning far. He gathered his nerves and floated back down. It was impossible to pretend that his light was not dimming. He was only a whisper of light. This time he landed on earth in the middle of a field. “If only I could see!” he cried, “Then this wouldn’t have happened!” There is nothing for me to light up in an empty field! If there was something to light up he wouldn’t have seen it. He sensed a movement and shone his light in the direction of the rustling. It was only a mouse scurrying underground. “Probably going to sleep with all his mouse friends,” the ray cried. He furiously bolted up toward the sky, but was tired and slower than ever.

This little ray with no sunshine needed to find some light. He was nothing but a shaking shadow. He tried to make light shine from within him and attempted to ring out his insides like a cloth, but there was nothing but a tightness He trailed down to earth and finally found some houses. He peeked into the windows, looking for an artificial light to help him see. The ray’s mind was dark and cloudy. He thought about the sun: “How could the sun leave me and let this happen to me,” thought the ray: “He doesn’t care about me.”

He entered a house and drifted to the corner of a blue room. He fell asleep there for a few short hours. When he woke up everything was black. He was not giving any light. He could hear sounds of a family breathing. Each member took a turn breathing out, as if aware of each other. The ray’s insides kept tightening and tightening until he felt them snap like an elastic band that’s stretched too far. “I shouldn’t have come here,” he realized: “Without the sun I have no light to shine. Now I don’t even have enough light to find my way home.” The ray was also starting to understand why the sun went down in the first place. He was tired and needed to rest. These people didn’t need the sun all day and all night long. The ray waited and waited. He missed the sun. He felt glad that he didn’t have any light of his own. All of his happiness came from the sun.

Soon, in the distance, the sun’s orange head peeked from out the horizon. The ray felt a joy as if the entire sun was packed inside his heart. All of the trees came alive under this light. The ray of sunshine calmly floated up above their green tops. They were becoming smaller and smaller as he was warmer and warmer. His brother and sisters started shooting down all around him. His limp body was electrified. He could hear them singing and they became one. “We are the roads that bring the sun’s light to earth,” the ray thought, and was happy.