IT'S A VERY COMMON EXPRESSION: "the light at the end of the tunnel". You might not have experienced the reality behind the metaphor. I have only experienced this twice in my life, both times in childhood.
The first time I saw light at the end of a tunnel, I was very little. It was the last holiday we went on before my parents divorced. Their hobby was hiking, so I did lots of hillwalking in Yorkshire and Derbyshire when I was very small. On this last excursion we followed the route of a disused railway. The terrain was luxuriously flat and reliable... until we came to a fenced off tunnel. The fence was torn open, so we ventured inside.
Unlike the road tunnels or Docklands Light Railway (where you can ride a driverless train right at the front where the driver would be), there were of course no lights here. Moving into the eventual light took a long, long time. The torch my Mum was shining around was almost ineffectual. Its weak beam danced around stones and rocks and just about lit the way. Within about a hundred yards we were in utter darkness. A strong dank smell was everywhere. When she turned off this torch, there was not the faintest glimmer of anything to be seen in front or behind. Just infinite blackness in all directions. I wasn't scared, but I remember vividly the intensity of this dark, knowing that if that torch failed we would see nothing at all for a long, long time.
The tunnel was "only" about half a mile to a mile long, meaning the walk through took ten to twenty minutes.
And this is what I remember best. Eventually, we trekked to the point where the tiniest pinpoint of light appeared straight ahead, like a needle-point. Walking onwards, this light grew gradually in size until it looked like an ever-brightening star. Eventually it grew to the size of the moon. It took what seemed like an eternity to expand into anything resembling the tunnel exit it actually was.
And then we were outside in blinding sunlight, and it was all over.
The second time we were on a canal boat. My parents were divorced and remarried, but the same phenomenon. Utter darkness, then the tiny point of light very gradually getting bigger. It was nothing like driving through a road tunnel, because it took such a long time to actually reach this light, which started so incredibly tiny, you might not be sure you were just imagining things in the endless night.
So there we have it. The great metaphor for life. Somewhere, there's light at that tunnel's end! Keep walking, keep chugging. Keep going. Eventually that light becomes almost blinding, because it's real.
(Just don't go in that tunnel after midnight!)
F R DAVID: WORDS (DON'T COME EASY)
Anyone remember this song? It got to number 2 in 1983, and it's barely ever played now. But I like it.
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