On the edge of the light is a flickering noise. Just outside of the crackling fire or the glowing circle is something else. You can hear it, and it grows into a million possibilities. It’s scary, that’s true, but it’s also good for us.
The darkness is unknown. Even when it’s exactly where the light was earlier.
Darkness is thicker than light, it seems, it has more space for magic.
Returning to the same space in the night time, and especially watching the darkness descend slowly, as the colour slowly seeps out and the world becomes a blur of blues and greys, until slowly fading into nothingness. The eyes play tricks. The possibility of the space being looked at opens up, as the factness of it turns into nothing.
Last night I cycled on a country lane in the pitch black. My bike light painted a faint circle around me, but beyond that I could see nothing. My eyes couldn’t work out the distances between me and any thing. Distant lights seemed up close. Nerves wracked, I made my way back home, flying through blackness, faintly terrified, but free.
I don’t know about that last bit, but it sounds like what you’re supposed to say when you talk about being terrified. Freedom isn’t really the point, it’s more the closeness. The intense awareness of everything. The demand to be that little bit more alert. Spotting silhouettes of butterflies and hearing the chirrups of crickets. Magnified by the darkness, the world out there becomes thicker and more wonderful.
And the eyes play tricks, as they look into something magical.
I find it increasingly important to connect to the darkness. I can’t help but think that my sleeping problems are tied with spending so long in artificial light. Not letting my brain wind down as the sun goes down. And so not being ready to wake up as it returns.
Having said that, if my sleep was dictated by the seasons, I’d possibly get less done.
But the dark, as well as feeling full of tricks and strangenesses, feels more real. Walking into darkness is what we have always done. It is what we are always doing. We are surrounded, and we don’t know what each footstep takes. By lighting it up we have robbed ourselves of a powerful metaphor for life. Perhaps this is what has given us the confidence to start striding forward so purposefully. Arrogantly, we banish all doubt about which path to take, because we can see the future. We know enough that it is always clear.
And so we charge out when we should be tiptoeing.
The darkness is the truth. That’s where we are heading. Into the unknown. We can still walk purposefully, but we must be aware that our eyes are playing tricks. We have to trust all our senses, and intuition, and take note of the possibilities of fear.
The dark is the future. Its where we’ll make our home.
It’s where we are.
Illustration by Alix.