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The gift of darkness


"Every moment of light and dark is a miracle." – Walt Whitman


I've spent most of my life chasing good things. Pleasant feelings, nice possessions, pleasurable experiences, fabulous people... all of it. Run towards the good, and run away from the bad could easily be a mantra for our culture.


Even as I sit here now, there is a subtle part of my psyche that wants the process of writing to be easy, to just flow and be pleasurable. I don't want to grapple with the insecurities of not having something meaningful to say, or how people might judge me for what I'm writing.


And so we avoid.

And so we delay.

And so we ignore.

And so we suppress.

And so we repress.

And so we judge in others that which we see in ourselves.


I'm not sure about you, but these tactics haven't worked very well for me to date.


The problem is that nothing, and I mean literally nothing, works like that in this world.


The natural state of the planet is a balance between light and dark, hot and cold, pressure and vacuums. As humans, our psychology and physiology are exactly the same - everything exists on a continuum, and we need to experience and embrace the entire spectrum of human emotions to live and grow fully.


When my beloved dog Ninja died 4 years ago, my friend Barry said something to me that fundamentally changed the experience I was going through at the time:


"Your heart is broken, but it's also open - use that."


This short sentence changed my relationship with the darkness I was experiencing. That doesn't mean that it hurt any less, but the deep pain and anguish became a portal for discovery and exploration. As much as I was hurting, from that place of tenderness I felt immensely connected to everything around me. I savoured conversations with loved ones, the texture of the sunlight shining through the trees took my breath away, and I had a new level of empathy for those around me who were suffering. The process kickstarted a long overdue period of deep introspection, therapy, reading and spiritual exploration.


The colour white is no better than black, nor purple any better than orange. We might have personal preferences, but these are not universal laws or truths, they are just stories.


Rather than running away from the darkness, every day we have the choice to embrace it, to learn from it, and to see it as a necessary thread in the complex tapestry of our life. The darkness provides a contrast which gives relative meaning to the light in our lives.


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