It’s a strange memory to have, and I’m not sure of its significance, but I remember the first time I became aware of nighttime’s darkness. I was about three and a half years old, and we were walking down a street somewhere close to downtown Santa Barbara, late at night.
I’m not sure where the five of us children and our mom were headed. I’m sure we weren’t lost, yet I also had the sense we had nowhere to go. What I remember most is the chill in the air and the desire to not be seen out in the dark.
At one point my mom motioned for us to cross the street, and to do it quickly to avoid being hit by a car. There was a sense of vulnerability that made the security of being with others, welcomed. I vaguely comprehended being as much of a comfort to my mom, as she was to me.
There’s another kind of darkness I became familiar with as well; it was similar to the night we walked the street, only, instead of roaming freely with nowhere to go, I was in my room, with nowhere to go.
As I became acquainted with this version of darkness, I learned that loneliness didn’t have to be about succumbing to being without human comfort – that the experiential realm of interaction and entertainment spanned beyond humans.
I could spend hours watching shadows and light dance. In my mind, they were more than just consequences of each other; they were playmates. A story line could emerge right before my eyes, as I waited anxiously for what would happen next.
Another favorite pastime in the dark was to close my eyes, touch my eyeballs through my eyelids, and see that there was a light inside of me. You probably think I’m crazy, but if you try it you’ll see I’m not. The key is to look down as far as you can while touching your eyeballs through your eyelids.
It might sound as if I did some silly stuff to make myself less afraid of the dark, perhaps I did. It was through knowing the dark well that I gained a perspective of things that daylight would forget to mention.
I got to know my heartbeat by covering my ears and listening very carefully. I also thought the earth had a heartbeat. If I kept still and drowned out all other sounds, I swear I could hear the earth make sounds.
Probably one of my most favorite sounds at night, in the darkness of my room, was that of my mother when all of us children were in bed for the night. I could hear her picking up the living room, or turning pages, as she read through her books. If she was watching a funny TV show, I could hear her laughing. For some reason, I was pleasantly surprised to discover her ability to exist and be expressive, independent of us children. I believe it also offered me a sense of autonomy as well.
The dark is often equated with negativity or evil, minimizing all the potential that lies within it. There’s much more I could tell, about the dark I know well, but I suggest you discover for yourself what it has to offer you – you might be pleasantly surprised by what you see and hear.