In praise of darkness

2 06 2009

“I’ve got a really dark cloud hanging over my head,” I said when my husband how I was doing this morning (aren’t you glad you don’t live with me?!?!!).

“I’m sorry,” he said (the standard, socially mandated response to such a comment).

“I’m not,” I replied.  He looked at me as he increasingly does (as if I’m crazy) and went off to work.

But I’m really not sorry I have this dark cloud following me around—much like that old Peanuts character.  (And don’t worry, this post isn’t an invitation to a “pity party” as my mother would say.  I mean I’m all for navel-gazing.  I just prefer to gaze at my own navel in private.  I know…how very un-Facebook-ish of me!!

Nope, today’s post is about why “darkness” has such a bad rap.  Or, rather, a call for it to be valued as much as “lightness”.

To me, there’s something to be said for the Eastern way of looking at darkness as simply one side of the same coin.  A coin that can’t be whole without both light and dark, without yin and yang.  For the record, “darkness” to me is a catch-all for death, anger, fear,   hate…all those very human emotions that we lock away in the basement of our souls.  So, if you follow this belief, you see that hate makes love stronger, that it is death that creates life, and that fear empowers courage.

Now, of course, all of this is a bit unusual for a Texan.  Where I come from it’s just dadgummed impolite to exhibit darkness (Texans tell someone who’s house is on fire that their garden is coming along nicely).  And it’s really unusual for someone living in Boston.  Emotions?  In Boston?  Towards politics or sports, hell yeah!!! Show emotion to each other? What are you crazy!?!?!!!  How very un-Puritan of you!!

Actually, it’s a bit unusual for an American.  We seem to be a Stepford country when it comes to darkness.

Economy in the shitter?  “Why yes,” we say in unison, “but, me, I’m fine.  Just read my Facebook updates….my vacuous, numbing Facebook updates. Look for me on Twitter…so you can see how, every minute, I’m just fine. Really.  Fine.”

And President Obama increasingly looks like our Stepford-in-Chief.  Dark clouds simply are not allowed over his White House…or his country.  Largest bailout in history (following several other large bailouts in history)?  “Tough times ahead”, he says–but let’s not dwell on that.  Let’s go to New York for a date night or invite NBC News in for a two-hour puff piece on the interior of the White House.

What?  You say perhaps we should spend two hours on exactly what it means for the American taxpayer to go into the car business or the banking business?  What are you crazy?  Where’s my remote?  I need to catch up on Susan Boyle and Jon and Kate…now THOSE people have troubles, not me!

Now, I’m not saying we should dwell in darkness or wallow in it (I’m a little Irish, but not THAT Irish).  We shouldn’t cling to the dark…the same way we shouldn’t cling to the light. We should keep moving—because life keeps moving.

Writing this, I remember one of my many favorite scenes from the movie “Cabaret”.  Liza Minnelli is walking down a Berlin street and hears a train coming.  “Oh hurry, darling,” she says to her companion.  She runs and runs and runs until she’s under the bridge the train passes over.  As it passes, she lets out a blood-curdling scream (this was before Liza found other ways to release stress!).   And then she just laughs and gets on with her walk.

Everyone in America needs to find a bridge right now.  Not to jump off of, but to go under and scream as the train passes overhead.  We need to express the darkness whenever we feel it–for our country, our marriages, our careers, our dying or dead loved ones, our lives.  Express it.  Scream, shout, punch a pillow, jump around.  Whatever moves you.  Just receive it–fully and with gratitude–and then, give a smile and get on with your day.

Yup.  I’ve got a dark cloud over my head today.  It’s gonna be a damned-good day!




2 responses

2 06 2009

I love your writing. You’re good ,damn…good. Your subject matters are captivating … just awesome. Wanna know what makes a darker day just that much better? – Get a light bulb, go outside – think about what is stressing you – then throw the bulb against a brick wall…stone…whatever. Its amazing how much better you feel. I recently found out that running over geodes- in my back yard- with my riding mower also causes the same affects. It puts a smile on my face. It costs 37.00 for new blades each time but its worth it. lol
What is up with Boyle!! Geez!

2 06 2009

thanks eli!! remind me never to ask you to mow my back yard!!!

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