The green light

How The Great Gatsby inspired the latest (and best) version of me


Just like Jay Gatsby, I too, have a green light at the dock on the other side of the river, although in my case, it’s a motorway.

My green light comes in the form of a green spotlight, the ones used in fog, wartime, or to attract partygoers to a venue. I’m not sure of the purpose of my green light, but it reminded me of the same light in The Great Gatsby, and the importance of hopes and dreams, and striving towards the green light at the end of Daisy Buchanan’s dock.

In Gatsby, the green light was representative of Jay Gatsby’s hopes and dreams for a future he envisioned with Daisy, as well as a symbol of the wealth he saw as the key to winning back her affection. It represented the future he was striving for, accumulating wealth, status and importance — things he saw as instrumental in luring Daisy away from the old money on East Egg, and towards his dashing bright future, and the promise of the lavish lifestyle she would have with him and his accumulated new money on West Egg.

For me, the green spotlight heralding over Bathgate represents the new life that I am striving for. I’ve made many changes since coming to Scotland. I moved countries. I set myself up in a new neighbourhood and embarked on a career that speaks to my soul — it’s who I was meant to become. All that change did not happen overnight, and it included more than a change of address. The most important change I made was within myself.

The Linda of Yesteryear may have dreamed of becoming an author, and one helping other authors to realise their goals, but she would not have done it, let alone embark on the journey to get there. YesterLinda, as I often refer to my former self, did have dreams and motivation — she just lacked the belief in herself to make it happen.

I once was accused of having no motivation for anything, and that person was right… at the time. I was in the depths of a depression I didn’t even know I had, let alone acknowledge that I needed help. I was reeling from a year of unemployment, a damaging relationship with the parental units, and although I acted like the person I wanted to be, my insides hadn’t quite caught up with my outward confidence and joie de vie. In short, it was an act — Fake it ’til you make it. You get the picture.

The Linda of Today is closer to that mark than ever — and she’s reaping the rewards — in self-confidence, in gumption, in realising that the only thing holding her back was herself. Myself. I’m lighter, more joyful (after three months of practising daily gratitudes, it’s hard not to be). I’m also looking at the green light and not seeing just a spotlight to guide trucks through the fog to their destination. It’s not as simple an explanation for why it appears selectively, usually when there’s fog (and there’s a lot in Scotland), but I view it more as a reminder for YesterLinda to see through the fog of her past, her hardships and the things that have happened to her (or BECAUSE of her) over the years. It is a beacon to her future, to renew her resolve when things don’t go as expected, to hunker down and do battle with whatever blocks are occurring, and to strategise to conquer these challenges. The green light signifies better days, an even brighter future and the resolve to strive for her dreams.

What change did I make within myself to release the former YesterLinda version? Mindset, gratitude, and with that, a belief in my abilities, my worth, my place in the world. It’s been invigorating, emotional and scary, but it’s worth the ride — it’s worth the reaching out towards the green light of my future. It may be across a motorway in reality, but for me, it’s in my dreams.

Those dreams keep evolving, as I go. I once dreamed of becoming a published author, then a best-selling author, and now I’m looking at creating retreats and programs to help other authors attain their own goals, and in turn, I will attain mine. They are evolving; I am evolving, and I’m liking this new version of myself a whole damn sight better than YesterLinda. I think it’s time I retire her.

For Jay Gatsby, however, he retired more than himself, although I really suspect he didn’t know who that was either. Gatsby retired everything — the green light beacon, his dreams of life with Daisy and his resolve to better himself. Instead, he saw the green light as the reality of his shattered dreams.

I am no Jay Gatsby.

Linda Erskine,

is a Canadian writer, author, and journalist, who lives with her boxer beast in West Lothian, Scotland. The first in her children’s series, George and Mildred: The Attack of the MeanieGirls, was published in 2020. The second adventure, Life’saBeach, is due to be released in Spring 2021. Linda is also the Director of Children’s Books for Oxygen Publishing, and is constantly inspired by stories. She hopes to guide other authors to realise their authorship potential. Visit www.lindaerskine.com to find out more about George, Mildred and their human, Linda.

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