The Darkness, and the Light

August 2, 2018


Have you ever experienced utter darkness?

Many people think that night is darkness, but it’s not. There is enough light even on a clouded night, that your eyes will adjust to it. But when you are a quarter mile under the earth and a quarter mile in, there is no light for your eyes to adjust to. In an underground mine, when you turn your light off, it is utterly black. Blacker than when you close your eyes and stare at your eye-lids. Underground, if you turn your light off and keep your eyes open, you still feel the same, but your means of perception have changed. Its true you still have sound, air movement across your skin, and anything you touch, and those senses adapt quickly- but everything has changed.

Underwater its the same. When you dive under arctic sea ice at night and your light goes out, if the dive shack isn’t illuminated, it is utterly black. You feel the compression of your wet suit against your skin, and the compression of the ocean around that. You can feel the cold of the water radiating against the outside of your suit as when you put your hand next to a window on a cold night. You hear your breathing in a steady cadence, and you are the only thing alive in the entire world. Utterly in darkness; utterly alone.

Light and its opposite, darkness, are powerful metaphors. I’ve felt darkness before. I’ve felt light. How do I feel those things? You don’t feel green or purple; how do you
light and darkness?

I love the metaphor that light and darkness are. They are powerful. I’ve been in darkness. Helplessly muddling my way through a mine-shaft and trying not to take a false step into the abyss. And my practical solution has been to acquire retina-burningly-bright flashlights. I have a lot of them. Its kind of a problem. But, in the last 4 years, I have rarely been caught without one, and without one for a friend. Because I know what darkness is like, I don’t want me, or anyone I’m with, to have to go through a dark place without light.

How does this change when it comes to the way life is, and the way we are? I don’t know many people that purposefully choose the darkness. But many people who are in darkness are not comfortable in the light, either. And opening the curtains to their lives does the same thing to them as it does to your friend John when he’s sleeping-in, and you abruptly open up his curtains at 11am in the morning, and he covers his eyes like Gollum coming out of his cave…..

The contrast between light and darkness is not only a visual description but a way of feeling, even

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