5.21.2009

The Darkness

Pin It I love the The Darkness, although they are a band no more :( But that's not the type of darkness I am referring to here. As a kid, I was never really afraid of the dark, maybe because we spent so much time outside at night. It seems most of our playing, most of our fun secrets, took place in the dark. However, some time in college, I began to notice how terrified I was of it.

I recall taking a class trip to Yosemite in winter and going out to a clearing with a group close to midnight to read a poem (this was one of those classes). Only a handful of us braved the cold and as we left behind our cabins and made our way to this clearing, the stars and moon nowhere in sight, the mountains grew around us and I felt more scared than ever, walking with my instructors and classmates no more than five feet away from me. I felt like a silly kid, and even though my body moved, my soul seemed paralyzed within. I don't recall the poem, I don't even recall the walk back. But I can still feel the fear when I think back to the trip.

On Tuesday night, after a presentation at Monrovia Canyon Park, we had to walk about a mile to our car. It was nearly nine and as soon as we were 50 steps from the cabin, that fear took over again. We walked arm in arm, and I tried to chat, but I could barely breathe. An occasional car would drive by quickly, and disappear around a curve. I tried to talk about the dark, and why it scared me, but I doubt I made much sense. I was talking only to keep breathing, to keep moving, away from it.

Last night, as I read in bed before sleep, I came across a passage about darkness. I am currently reading The Passion by Jeanette Winterson (so far the best novel I have read by her). This soldier describes his fear of the dark in a way I have tried to since I've felt it. I am going to paraphrase here, but it was something like: Being surrounded by darkness is like being underwater without ever having the opportunity to come up for air. No matter which direction you take, it surrounds you. Scary, right?

I am not afraid of the dark as I lie in bed, or walk the streets, it is being out in nature, in the dark, that scares me. My heart races when I see moutains and trees and the black sky. I lose sense of those around me. Ahhhhhhh darkness, you sure give me a good scare.

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