The Prism Effect

When I was a kid, I was given a prism to use in one of my science classes in elementary school. I thought it was the most awesome thing ever. (Yes, this was way before cell phones were invented.) We discussed Sir Isaac Newton’s experiments with light refraction. As it passes through one object to the next object, light bends. Newton used prisms in his experiments.

As an article here mentions

Newton was the first to prove that white light is made up of all the colors that we can see.

In science class, we duplicated Newton’s experiment with a light source, cardboard, and a prism. (Yes, this was back in the day.) I don’t have photos from that experience. But this one comes close.

The white light containing the color spectrum makes me think of something else: a blank page. I see that confused look on your face. Let me explain what I mean. First, let’s switch out the phrase color spectrum and insert words. Now, think of a blank page as something containing all of the words that can be seen—wonderful, colorful words describing vivid images. A prism is needed for those words to be seen and understood. The writer is the prism that helps others see those words.

My mind turns on odd things sometimes. This was something I was thinking about recently. 😀

If the writing aspect doesn’t fit your life, think of the prism analogy this way. Our minds are prisms. We often take whatever is beamed into us and show the world the result. For example, let’s say we hear a lot of negative comments. Such a drab view of life might result in a negative mindset that spills over in our dealings with others. We tell everyone, “This is how life is—drab.” But unlike an actual prism, we have a choice as to what we do with what we’re given. We can either show the drab colors and say, “This is how life is and always will be,” or we can show something else: the colors of hope. Even if we can’t see them yet. By this we say, “This is how life can be. And it starts with me.”

For someone like me who is prone to depression, the latter is a challenge. But I’m still willing to give it a shot. How about you?


I saw this rainbow months ago while standing outside of a grocery store. A rainbow is a nice example of refraction.

Prism image from Refraction experiment image from It is from an MIT YouTube video. Blank page from Rainbow photographs by L. Marie.

34 thoughts on “The Prism Effect

  1. Makes me think about how not all rainbows are identical just like all ideas can come out different in people. The same emotional and mental input can create a wide variety of conclusions. Not really sure what I’m getting at though. Like an idea that won’t fully form.

  2. I try to reflect positives through my mind prism. Sometimes it’s easy to look on the bright side. Other times it’s more of a challenge. But it’s worth it . . . since our freedom/happiness is at stake!

  3. I like your comparison of the prism and the blank page, L. Marie. I struggle at times (especially right now) to look on the bright side of things. Besides the news, the weather, family illness, I DO try to look on the bright side. It’s a struggle at times, but, just turning onto a new street while in the car or taking a walk in another direction helps to set me right.

  4. Ahh, Mariano’s. I miss having one of those nearby since we moved to Kane county.

    Anyway, onto your prism analogy. I loved it. I’m not prone to depression, but I’m prone to seeing the glass half-empty. My family trained me that way (dysfunction). As an adult, I made a choice to fight that side of me and work at being positive. It’s difficult around my bro who hasn’t “seen the light” so-to-speak on the negativity thing, but you never know where the colors might rub off. 😉

    BTW, years ago I wrote a short story in the form of a poem called Chasing Rainbows. This post of yours reminded me of it, as it has the same message, and it also has a prism! 🙂

  5. I love prisms! I ought to dig out one I have stowed away in the garage somewhere. Great idea behind this post. I’ve been reading some good essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson lately and he talks about a similar idea — genius is not so much “from” a person but from their letting something greater filter “through” them.

    Lately, I’ve been working on that ‘letting’ part. It seems that when I hand over control, so to speak, the right words just seem to come much more easily. Almost as if I’m listening more than I’m speaking… if that makes sense.

    • Yes it makes sense! Is that your strategy as you write your short stories?

      Yay! Dig out that prism! I wish I still had one.

      Love that Emerson quote. It is a good one to hang on the wall. I might have to print it and tape it to my printer, which I face when I type on my keyboard.

  6. I do hope they didn’t make you do Newton’s other experiments where he stuck needles into his own eye!! I don’t think I ever found out why… I think I fainted at that point… 😉

    I love the idea of being a prism. I shall go off and do my best to convert something dull into something colourful…

  7. The white light contains all the colors, but we don’t always see them. Yesterday I ran out to get the mail even though it had just started raining. I’m so glad I did. A huge, bright rainbow was arching across the sky. It was a short-lived rain, so I’m glad I was able to see it.

    Unlike the prism, we have a choice what light we allow to flow in and how we decide to interpret it. For me, I prefer not to censor bad news, especially if I think it’s important, but I don’t think it’s healthy to dwell on it. Be philosophical. Accept the bad with strength and be open to the good and grateful for it. At the same time, it’s important to let as much beauty and love into your life as possible. Sunny days, good music, friends and friendly strangers, and some words on the page are all welcomed.

Your Turn to Talk

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s