You may have noticed that I rarely publish serious, high-minded posts more than a couple of weeks in a row. I tend to be a bit mercurial in deciding on blog topics. I go from light-hearted to serious to practical fairly regularly.
It isn’t that I have the attention span of the common house fly. I mean, I do have the attention span of the common house fly, but it isn’t just that.
I’ve always been afraid of the dark. I slept with a nightlight well into adulthood. I literally see things in the blackness of the night. As a child, no one could convince me that there was nothing scary in my closet (except for a mess) or under my bed. You would think I would have outgrown those fears by now. I probably have. I honestly don’t believe there are monsters in the closet or that there are ghoulies and ghosties and three-legged beasties under my bed. I think it is just that my imagination is so powerful that what my mind perceives overlays what my eyes see. Sometimes, the correlation with reality is pretty clear. Through the dark, I saw snakes on the floor of my bedroom the night after the snake invasion in the garage. Other times, the connection between my thoughts and what I see in the dark is more obscure. In the dark, my thoughts can be complex and unconstrained by reason. Such brain processes create ideal conditions for my mind to manufacture some pretty abstract monsters.
Exploring the dark places of my mind is way scarier than anything that could ever actually be lurking under my bed. People talk about “grey matter,” but my brain sometimes seems to be rather more black then grey. I often seem to stumble over the least pleasant parts of my personality when I go routing around in that blackness.
The dark is always there. I don’t think that is necessarily a bad thing, though…monsters in the closet notwithstanding. There are actually some benefits to spelunking around in the darkness of my brain. If I never explore the more hidden parts of myself, I am unlikely to grow and improve. In excavating through the darkness, I sometimes run across hidden ideas that help me start to solve difficult problems that deeply trouble me. I am sometimes able to find interesting mental artifacts that help me cope and improve my life. These nuggets of solutions can get obscured when competing with all the stimulation of the light of day. Sometimes, I need to explore the dark to find what I need to make things better in the light.
I suppose the real key to living a thoughtful life is to live in a balance between both dark and light. We need to be brave in the dark and revel in the light. There is some weird physiology that lets us see better in the dark once our eyes have been exposed to some light. I think it is the same with the heart and mind. A little laughter and light helps your heart and your mind cope with the darker places. It also helps us see the valuable lessons we can find in the dark.
So there we have it. Confronting the dark can be a good thing. On the other hand, if I hang out in the dark too long, I am apt to trip over something scary. That’s why I hustle back to light-heartedness with my blog posts after a few weeks of serious introspection. But maybe I shouldn’t be all that afraid of the dark. Anything lurking there in the dark is also there in the light. As counterintuitive as it sounds, I guess some things are just easier to see in the dark than in the light.
What do you think? Do you tend to find “buried treasure” when you explore the darker corners of your mind? Or do you just tend to trip over things that go bump in the night? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hope you don’t have a scary day!