Light up the Night

By Julia Carlson
Distinguished Young Woman of Nebraska for 2012










NASA recently released captivating new satellite photos of the Earth at night.  These new photos show the light that illuminates our planet when the sun goes down.  It is funny how, even without the presence of the sun; we, as a human race are capable of illuminating the world we live in.  There is something to be said for the ability to create light in the absence of that which is supposed to illuminate the world.  Without a doubt, the sun is a wondrous thing that I am sure we are all thankful for.  On the other hand, the ability to create your own light is an invaluable skill.

Picture yourself in a remote forested area, the sun is setting, your time is limited, and before long you will be left in not only the dark, but the cold as well, and without much shelter.  You’re best option is to use the remaining time you have with the sun to create a fire.  As time goes by you frantically scavenge for bits and pieces, which could help you build something; anything at all that could be used to produce even the smallest light.  It is the final few minutes of light, and as you scrape sticks together over a pile of twigs, you see a spark, and then another, and another until you have built a somewhat measly but present fire.  You wait a few minutes and allow the fire to strengthen before you add some more sticks and even a few large branch pieces you have been able to find.  As the fire gets larger you are able to see more of what is around you and you are able to gather a pile of wood to use when the fire needs to be replenished.

The setting in the forest is not so foreign to most as it may seem.  For anyone trying to find his or her way in this world, doing it without the comfort of the “sun” is neither a small or simple task.  For me in particular this situation is relatable to my college transition.  I knew my time in the comforts of my home, city, and even state were coming to an end, and so as the clock ticked I did my best to prepare myself for the unknown by building my best fire.  It just so happened that I found the best quality about fires; they help you see the things around you so you can find other fires.  As I discovered other people that were struggling to do the same thing that I was, we were able to form quite the light!

Moving out of your comfort zone where your worries are minimal and you know what is coming can be extraordinarily scary.  At the same time however, it is the moments in life that force you out of your comfort zone that allow you to see all that you are capable of, and discover new experiences and people.  My hope is that we would all get the courage to step away from our comfort zone and see what we could accomplish when the sun goes down.  My bet is we would be able to make our world so bright it wouldn’t even compare to NASA’s satellite photos.

Julia Carlson is a college freshman at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Minnesota majoring in Biology with a minor in Management. Originally from Omaha, Nebraska, Julia was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of Nebraska for 2012. Learn more about Julia here!

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