Opinion: Thank You, Billy Joel, I Turned the Lights Back On

The author, Angola, Ind. sophomore Heidi Faramelli held by her Grandma Barb as she and Faramelli’s Grandpa Dan stand behind Faramelli’s late Aunt Kim’s grave on June 13, 2005. Kim, who passed away in Nov., 2003, was a lot like Faramelli, and is the reason she was named Heidi Kimberly in Feb. 2004 (Photo courtesy of Carey Faramelli).

How lucky are we to have a nature center on our college campus? I recently went on a walk at the Whitehouse Nature Center (WNC), and I felt so blessed. I mean, it’s not often that I can say I wore a t-shirt during Michigan’s February.

Lately, I’ve found myself on countless spending sprees. A few weeks ago, I spent $100 at Target alone; mostly on healthy snacks, but also on an outfit for an Olivia Rodrigo concert in March. Then, I bought Lizzy McAlpine concert tickets.

Later that week, I bought tickets to Noah Kahan’s concert in my home state of Indiana, despite the fact that I’ve already been on this tour for his newest album “Stick Season.”

It’s the final chapter, okay? I have to go and hear “You’re Gonna Go Far” and “Forever” live.

And finally, I bought tickets to see Lauren Daigle. Her religious music seems like something that would be life-changing for me to experience in person.

Once I was done spending though, I felt like I needed some distance from the purchases. After spending hours staring at my phone and anxiously waiting in Ticketmaster’s waiting room, I was overwhelmed. My shoulders were tense and my neck ached from being hunched over my phone. I needed fresh air; I needed to touch grass.

So, I decided to walk to the WNC on a whim in between my classes. I called my mom for half an hour, and during that time, walked nearly two miles.

Once I hung up with my mom, I reflected on the past year.

My sophomore year at Albion has been anything but easy. When I look back at the “best years of my life,” I’m not sure that some of 2023 will be included in the mix. I experienced severe mental health struggles in the fall, largely due to the birth control I was on; I had no idea how badly it would affect my mental health.

This spring semester did not start much better, due to a personal health scare. Then, my beloved Grandpa Dan passed away on Feb. 6, my twentieth birthday. On the day of Grandpa’s funeral this past weekend, my father was admitted to the hospital due to atrial fibrillation (AF, or AFIB); he thought he was having a heart attack. Thankfully, he is doing well now.

The sun shines over a field at the Whitehouse Nature Center. Sunlight during a Michigan February can be rare, but Faramelli is ready to soak in all of its’ warm rays (Photo by Heidi Faramelli).

In other words, I have been going through it.

Through it all though, I’ve recently found a heightened closeness to God and a deeper understanding of my spirituality. Likewise, I understand that many people have little respect for Christians, and based on the many terrible things many Christians have done in the name of their religion, I don’t blame them.

However, I consider myself both a Christian and an ally to all; I have friends who are religious and friends who are not. I can separate my faith from my political views, and I desire respect and acceptance for all groups of people on Earth, above all else.

I now consider my religion a large part of my identity. I recently heard a song titled, “Who You Say I Am,” by Hillsong Worship, and its lyrics reminded me that no matter what, I am a child of God. I first heard the song at a Church near Albion’s campus.

The pastor at the Arbor Church I attend with my friends recently said something I truly resonated with:

“Sometimes, life just be lifin’,” he said.

Nonetheless, I’ve been trying to look at the bright side of things. I’ve found sunshine even on cold winter days. I’ve realized my grandfather is finally at peace in Heaven with Jesus, my Aunt Kim and his other loved ones.

The sunset from Albion’s campus, painting the sky’s canvas pink, blue and purple. One of Faramelli’s favorite poems, “Speech to the Young” by Gwendolyn Brooks, includes the line, “Even if you are not ready for day /” (Photo by Heidi Faramelli).

I have turned the lights back on, per Billy Joel’s advice in his new song – this man continues to understand me on the deepest level. Through it all, I have tried to smile amidst my saddest moments.

In Joel’s new song, “Turn the the Lights Back On,” he sings:

“The cold settles in, it’s been a long

Winter of indifference

And maybe you love me, maybe you don’t.”

Initially upon hearing the prior lyrics, I became weary of what Joel’s message would be in his first single in over thirty years. However, as the song continued, its later lyrics washed a blanket of warmth and comfort as I began to shift my mindset about what the future may hold:

“I’m late but I’m here right now,

Is there still time for forgiveness?

Won’t you tell me how,

I can’t read your mind

But I see you now,

As we’re lying in the darkness,

Did I wait too long,

To turn the lights back on?”

Joel’s song taught me that it is never too late to look for the brighter side of things. Nearly any situation can have two sides, and the positive will reveal itself only if you are intentionally looking for it.

Albus Dumbledore once said that “happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

Faramelli smiles at the camera during Angola High School’s Class of 2022 senior sunrise. Brooks’ poem continues, “it cannot always be night” (Photo courtesy of Taylor Reffeitt).

I’ve personally found the light through God; the following Bible verse from Job 11:17-18 truly helped this concept resonate with me:

“Your life will be brighter than the noonday. / Even darkness will be as bright as morning. / Having hope will give you courage. / You will be protected and will rest in safety.”

Well, Dumbledore and God, I’m doing it. I’m turning on the light; to my spirituality, to joy and to the bright side. I know there will still be darkness, sadness and difficult moments. Yet, with my new outlook on life, I am far more content now than I have ever been.

If you are struggling, or feel as though you are unable to find happiness or light in whatever facet these may look like for you, it is never too late.

You are truly so loved.

Reach out to Counseling Services or SAMSA’s National Hotline if you need someone to talk to.

And, according to Disaster Assistance’s website, people can also call or text “1-800-662-HELP (4357) or TTY 1-800-487-4889. This is a free, 24-hour, confidential treatment referral and information service.” The services are available in both English and Spanish.

About Heidi Faramelli 12 Articles
Heidi Faramelli is a sophomore English Creative Writing major and Communication Studies minor from Angola, Indiana. She finds joy in telling people-centered stories and giving the outspoken a platform to tell their stories. Contact Heidi via email at HKF10@albion.edu.

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