When I was in elementary school--maybe in second grade-- each of us had to participate in the science fair. The idea was for us to come in with something we created related to science that would be put on display for visiting parents to view at an exhibit.
Science was not my thing. I had put off doing my exhibit until the last minute and finally fessed to my father saying I had no idea what to do for the science fair. So, he helped me. He found a piece of plywood someplace and an old insulated piece of wire. On the plywood he screwed in a tiny lightbulb that was encased in a small piece of hardware. He connected the wire to the lightbulb and ran the wire around the periphery of the plywood. He interrupted the wire about half way around from where the bulb was, and found an old manual switch. It was the kind of switch that you could pull down to get current. As I remember the top of the switch was not insulated so he yanked off the top of a nosedropper and put that on top of the switch. Somewhere on top of the plywood he hooked up a battery.
This he told me would illustrate a complete circuit.
I thought my father was a magician with this set up. What with the wire, lightbulb, even nosedropper and switch--this was impressive to me. However, I still did not get it. Then he demonstrated that when the nosedropper was up and not connecting with the base of the switch, the lighbulb would not go on. But if you depressed the nosedropper so that the metal on the top connected with the metal on the bottom, then the tiny lightbulb went on.
Now I was wide eyed. I must have asked a bunch of questions, but what I recall doing mostly was plunging the noseplugged top to the bottom and then releasing it to see that lightbulb go on and off. And then, periodically, picking my head up to look at dad as if to say, that's like a magic trick.
When we went to the fair there must have been 209 complete circuits that were brought in and there were exhibits that were like rides in Disney world, but it did not matter to me. I was still taken by the contraption dad had put together and kept plunging the nose dropper to see that light go on.
In early 2006 a woman who had been, to me, a little kid when I'd been a camper at a summer camp, endeavored heroically to organize a reunion of all those people who had attended the camp during a 20 year span. She was remarkably successful and in the summer of 2006 some 100 ex campers descended on a camp near the one where we attended and reunited for a weekend that was beyond rich. She not only brought together the people who could attend that reunion, she stimulated other connections that begat other connections. In December of 2006 she organized another reunion which I could not attend, but glommed onto the photos that were posted from the event. In the summer of 2007 she organized a mini reunion in New York which I could attend and seven of us sat in a midtown restaurant for hours reminiscing and connecting. In the summers of 2009 and 2010 there were other summer camp reunions near the camp where we had attended. Through this woman's indefatigable efforts she has brought lifelong friends, sweethearts, and even families back together.
The reconnections made are not artificial or superficial. They have established completed circuits that have enabled many of us--pardon the heavy metaphor--to light up and feel charged. Sure some connections might seem to fade as time goes on, but for those that were very real in the first place, we have embraced and been enriched because of the completed circuits.
I often wonder about energy. When we feel thrilled, relieved, joyous--it is almost a a palpable sensation. That is we can feel it. So, what happens when we don't have it. We know how we feel when we have a completed circuit, when we feel that rush of love, of having connected--what are the manifestations of not having a completed circuit. What happens to that potential emotional energy?
I am still not a science student, but I think that unharnessed emotional energy does go somewhere and it is in us. In the same way that a completed circuit is enriching and is genuinely salubrious, when that nosedropper goes up and the light goes off, I think something insidious begins.
Thank you Dad for helping me with my science project and explaining how a complete circuit works. Thank you Ona for the industrious and sophisticated wiring that allowed so many of us to complete circuits.
Keep that nose dropper down. Not only for the richness and illumination of a completed circuit, but to avoid the deleterious effects of a loss of power-- functioning in the dark, bumping into objects, substituting adjusting to darkness for genuine light.