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Living in the dark

By John Ince

Vision is our most important survival sense, and we need light to see. So by nature we are drawn to light.

That is why words which refer to light, like brilliant, illuminating, lucid, are common metaphors for positive things.

But many of us are not aware of our genetic attraction to light.  We choose to live and work in dark spaces.

In the home where I grew up, my bedroom was in the basement. There was a small window at ground level and sometimes sunlight shone in, but mostly my room was dark. I thought that living with an overhead light always in the day on was normal.

It was only in my late 20s that I discovered the impact of light on my feelings, when for the first time I moved into an apartment several floors off the ground with windows spanning the entire length of the space. The moment I walked into the place I felt a little buzz of joy, purely because of the light.

From that moment on, the most important feature of any abode I inhabit is the quality of its light. I only live in places where I need no electric lights during the day.

That requires a proportion of window area to living area that is larger than most homes provide, or living several floors above ground with unobstructed exposure to the sky.

An advantage of living in rural areas is that neighbors are often too far away to see through your windows, so you can have lots of them. When I moved to the countryside I built a home of 1700 sq. ft. with 47 windows!

But most city homes are way too dark for me, so I choose to live over 100 feet from the ground in an apartment tower.

But I notice that many of my neighbors drop their blinds. The default setting is “blinds down”.  Of course this can be functional if it prevents sunlight from damaging furniture or if it afford privacy. But often, like today as the photo shows,  the blinds are down on a dark day on windows that nobody could see through.  It’s a habit.

How light is your abode? Are you denying yourself the joy of natural light? Can you open blinds that are normally closed? Build a skylight? Move to a brighter place? All of these will please your genes.