The light bulb in my kitchen burnt out a few weeks ago. Last week, the bulb in my bathroom burnt out, too.

As a result it’s been pitch black in my bathroom and not much better in the kitchen.

I’ve looked around for a new bulb, though it can be tricky to find specific items like that in a European downtown area. In the US you would just head to any grocery store or pharmacy and they’d be likely to have a replacement bulb, but in the States we’re all about the on-stop-shop. Most other countries have their food in one place, their housewares in another, their hardware in another, and so on. I assumed there would be some kind of electronics or hardware store within walking distance, but after a few days of keeping my eyes open for something that fit the bill, I came up short.

A full week has passed and I’ve made it work. I turn on a light in an adjacent room when cooking, and when I need to use the bathroom, I open up the fridge, which is close to the bathroom door and does a decent job of lighting my way to the shower or toilet. I am a classy person.

And then yesterday — eureka! — I found a small bulb tucked into a corner of the tiny camping supplies section of a newly-discovered grocery store near my flat. I walked home, fitted it into the socket at the end of a somewhat-precariously-dangling wire fixture in the bathroom, and suddenly the room was flooded with pure, sweet, full-bodied light. The bathroom — and my smile — lit up brighter than either had in a week.

It’s a little thing, replacing a light bulb. But it can be huge when you’ve reset your expectations — in this case, to showering in the dark — resulting in a small solution that makes a huge impact.

This is part of why I don’t live in fancy apartments all the time, and why I don’t eat out at high-end restaurants for every meal. If I get accustomed to the best, anything less than ideal will be disappointing.

If I keep my standards balanced in the middle — acclimating myself sometimes to the best and sometimes to the not-so-best available — then those four-star restaurants and fancy flats will still have the power to surprise me and light up my smile with their wonderfulness.

Stay in a dark room long enough and eventually you’ll be able to see, and you’ll still appreciate the light when it’s turned on periodically.

Spend your entire life in a fully-lit room and the darkness will be terrifying and unfamiliar and seem like the worst thing that could possibly happen.


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