Let There Be Light


  Having been in the ER several times during the past week or so due to the aforementioned incident, I took the opportunity to sort of Rosetta Stone the placard you see above.  It was prominently mounted on a wall in every patient room I’ve visited thus far.  (Just one more visit to go!)

  Even though I’ve never had to worry about being in labor (rest assured my roommate would agree with that statement – whatever meaning you might ascribe to the phrase) the translation of that bit is what interests me most.

  I know a little Spanish and enjoy watching Despierta America (Wake up America) on Univision in the early AM.  You should watch it.  It is interesting even with the sound off, for the wonderful cultural counterpoint it conveys vis The Today Show, Good Morning America, et al.

  Anyway, the title and first phrase up to the conjunction translate easily word for word.  But then in English it says “…or are in labor…” and in Spanish “O Esta Dando A Luz” which I knew didn’t say anything about work or labor – trabajo.  I knew that Luz meant light.

  Turned to one of my research assistants, daughter #1, who informed me that the phrase does indeed mean “in labor”/giving birth, but translates literally as “…or you are giving light”.  I think that is beautiful, interesting, and further provocation for my sodium ion exchange (that’s what moves stuff along in one’s neurons).

  Had I ever have had the prospect of being in labor, I wonder if the nature of my anticipation of such an event would have differed if I’d  known it described exclusively by one or other of the phrases.  I’ll go out on a limb and say that it would have.  

  On the one hand, whatever combination of excitement, nervousness, and trepidation one might feel, to view the penultimate stage of a pregnancy in terms of work would be way different than, say, as the dawn of a new universe.

  Furthermore, that metaphor, “dando a luz” would (in my mind anyway) evolve through a series of metaphiers from the initial “giving light”, to the newborn’s astonished visage, to the acquisition of literacy, to a college mortarboard, and to a bright eyed effort to make the world a better place.

  But then I’ll never be pregnant and in all honesty the process of giving birth does not look that much like any sort of serene experience.  I would never have chosen the word “labor”.  More reminds me of William Wallace’s last experience of life in Braveheart.  Torture. I’ve watched it three times.  Birth that is.  Braveheart many more.

*Interested in metaphors and their contribution to consciousness?  Go to post of February 4, 2011



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