Walking around New York City yesterday, I saw so many people outside, gazing at the sky with doctored cereal boxes and special eclipse viewing glasses. Here they were, young and old in a group holding boxes above their heads. Here he was, leaning against a streetlight on the corner with those glasses on, head tilted up. There was no hurry, nor were people moving with the single-pointed urgency so ingrained into our way of life. This alone was a rare sight to behold on the streets of the city.
For a moment in our time, the moon and the earth moved into this perfect alignment with the sun that many would witness across this country, and for this moment, there was darkness where there was supposed to be light.
Yet no one seemed afraid. I marveled at our playful expressions full of wonder and curiosity. And maybe just a tinge of the feeling that magic was happening.
It made me question again what my own relationship with the dark is.
Our collective connection to light is easier to define. We feel sunlight as warm and comforting, like a sincere embrace. When we see a lightbulb, we connect the symbol with clarity and inspiration. We see light and think: “Yes I’m pretty sure I know where to go now and what to trust in my path.” We are human so we gravitate towards what we think we know and what we can see.
For many of us, darkness usually connotes fear, oppression, sinister forces. We may connect it with tragedies or traumas that were outside the realm of our control, leading to the “dark” feelings. Helplessness, depression, worry, anger, envy, resentment, hatred. The energy in these words hovers like a heavy veil. When I feel devastated by an upset or loss, nothing feels ok. The sense of safety found in certainty vanishes in a blink.
We may be scared of the dark because we can not see what, if anything, is happening. And we can not control what we can not see, right? We may feel vulnerable and unable to defend, should harm come our way. In this state, we are set up to lose trust in ourselves and in our surroundings.
When you close your eyes and all you see is black, how do you feel? Do you know what resides in this space with you? What do you feel when you close your eyes in your own bed? What about when you close your eyes and begin walking? When you close your eyes in the presence of a beloved friend? Which thoughts accompany you in these contexts?
Our sense of safety and survival may depend on what we associate with darkness.
When the world begins to feel dark, close your eyes. See the other faces of darkness. It is the blank slate, the catalyst, the pregnant pause in our breathing. It is the moment right before consciousness forms. It is the depths of the ocean where mystical creatures are heard but not seen.
Imagination and inspiration can originate from the dark as well as from the light. In the darkness, you can create where nothing has been before. Solutions, wisdom, love. There can be magic in the darkness.
And in those times you need a guide, find people who are not afraid of the dark, because they have acted on the courage to look into the deep crevices of their own heart and spirit and who have learned from the secrets buried in there. Those who have managed to find some comfort in being in the uncomfortable. They do not shun the dark, nor do they cling obsessively to light. They know it’s going to be ok, and they can hold the space for you to get there.
In them, we may be better able to see how the dark can make the light within us shine brighter.