Why is the darkness so scary? We create images and thoughts of monsters, ghouls and bad things waiting to jump up and get us. From childhood dreams to Hollywood’s scary movies, these images infect our thoughts. Lately I have been thinking about the dark and am coming to grips with its peacefulness.
I think back over the years to recall some wonderful conversations I have had in the dark.
My sister Amy and I shared a room until I went to college. Many nights we chatted while we were falling asleep, some nights we picked at each other. I was closer to the wall switch for the light and since I do NOT like the dark, I could fall asleep with the light on. I would wait patiently until she was all tucked in and listen for the relaxing exhale breath and then I would reach up and ‘flick’. Ooooo she would get so mad. Ok maybe not so peaceful.
Izzy is more than a dog. She is the darkness defender fighting off intruders with a snore that rivals a 300 pound sumo wrestler. Perhaps a burglar would mistake her for a formidable opponent. I know she is just a Pug with a heart of gold and a loyalty like no other. Izzy is a heat ball of peace in the darkness.
In college, some very deep and insightful conversations can be had between roommates waiting to fall asleep in the dark. Stories of guys we met in the Rat; or the one we called Tom Selleck. Diane, thank you for those times reliving the night’s events, Blue Collar Man (by Styx) and wondering where our other two roommates had gone. Too many Saturday mornings I woke up with my foot on the floor and my hand on the wall thanking God for making it stop; promising no more shooting pool and drinking beer. I miss those days Di.
When I had Amelia, I would sit in the rocker in her room, somewhere in the depths of the night, listening to her breathe as I dozed. I had, no lie, probably 25 night lights strategically placed throughout the house. The pediatrician said not to turn the lights on because you don’t want the baby to actually be awake. To this day, I can maneuver through my entire house without flipping a switch. Note: Jack was an easier baby and better sleeper. I do, however, remember sleeping on his floor ready to pounce in case he stopped breathing and succumbed to crib death. What an Italian mother!
For the last 26 years, Chip has created an entirely different level of peace in the darkness. Now before your minds start thinking all kinds of things, which I will not confirm or deny, I find it easier to talk to him about the day’s events when he cannot actually focus on my face. For example, to smooth over a purchase of shoes or one of those, “honey, I wish you didn’t do that” scenarios. I cuddle in and tell my tale. We have discussed many uncomfortable topics while spooning back to front. He gives me peace when I have nightmares and wake the whole house. Chip, somewhere in the darkness, makes me braver to admit the things I am worried about or to talk about my own insecurities. We have laughed, we have cried and we have cuddled up. The last one is my favorite.
I remember the first time I took a spin class and they said they were turning off the lights. For a brief moment, my heart skipped a beat while I got comfortable with the environment. In many classes I have been in almost complete darkness, elbow to elbow with my fellow riders- strangers, yet not. People I have known for years, or perhaps a few weeks. We ride alone yet together. When one of the instructors reminds us not to let our minds wander, I wonder if they can read my mind or if they too, need that nudge to stay focused. I do find concentration and peace in the “spin dark” except when Angela plays “Bodies Hit the Floor”!
Even alone, you can face things you may not want to face in the light of day. Darkness can be peaceful if you respect the silence and introspective it can offer. You can speak to God, if that’s what you believe. I sometimes speak to my grandmother Amelia asking her if I am doing a good job and to keep an eye out on my family. She is my guardian angel.
Just to be clear, some darkness I still do not like and do not find peace in:
- Cellars when you are climbing the stairs and you RUN up them two at a time
- MRI machines
- Elevators with dim lights
- Caves or hiking in caverns
- Camping and walking to the outhouse in the middle of the night
- And finally that moment in the dark when you lose power before the generator clicks on
So tonight, get in bed with your dog, your kids, your spouse or just yourself and listen to the night. Feel the darkness and embrace it. If you find yourself anxious, get a night light, relax and think good thoughts. Peacefulness is what you make of it.