Lights out

Last Saturday night, Chicago’s Palmer House–one of many hotels hosting attendees at the Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research–held a special event in the lobby. At first, I wasn’t quite sure what was going on–against a dark background, guests paraded around with glow-in-the-dark necklaces and bracelets, balloons filled with bright bulbs lined the reception desk and bar, and a piano played a celebratory tune. Everyone seemed to be having a good time, children dashing around playing tag as their parents sipped goblets of wine.  After nearly toppling over when one little girl came running straight at me, I decided to head up to my room for the night.

In the elevator, the mystery was revealed. It was “lights out” at the Palmer House and elsewhere throughout the city, a rare opportunity to save a bit of energy by spending a portion of the evening sans lightbulbs.

Despite the feel-good mood that seemed to envelop those mingling in the lobby, I had to wonder how much of the sentiment was lost by filling in the darkness with fun and brightness. It reminded me of the cheery pinkness that often clouds the somber reality of breast cancer. Sometimes what we need to see is the darkness–to pause, look around, and accept that doing something meaningful doesn’t always have to be fun.


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