On Darkness


Last month, after I taught a class on flower arrangement, a class participant wrote to tell me she was envious of my life. I still have not found the right words to respond to her. Perhaps my life seen from social media does not show the dark spots along my path. Today, though, I want to acknowledge the darkness.

Despite all my expeditions into the light, sometimes only the darkness rises up. I know I am not the only one. Here in Hawaii, an acquaintance of mine carries his pain right on his chest; he has a tattoo of a lost soul floating in the dark ether of space. When I feel this type of pain, I tend to hideaway. We live in a culture that pushes us to look happy constantly. However, being human requires us to touch the whole range of emotions. For me, the very heart that chases beautiful vistas is also home to a heavy spot of sadness.

              I have known the darkness my whole life. Growing up, I was accused of being moody, too sensitive, or full of attitude. I, now, have learned to recognize a few triggers of that darkness. For example, an insensitive comment, a perceived injustice, or sometimes dreary weather can cloud my disposition. After my father’s death, that darkness exploded into a full-blown depression. Through therapy, I learned some tools to help me manage those darker moments.

              My pen has been a lifelong medium in confronting the dark spots. I have written in journals from about age seven. Those recollected pains are a history of my temperature changes. They are also reminders. I have seen the darkness before. I have looked right into the abyss, and I know there is more for me than that abyss.

              A recent bout of darkness followed the harsh words of a retreating romance. Again, I tried to write through it. This time I could not manage to ink away from the blues. But through a chance conversation with a wise soul, I have started to consider the salve of gratitude.

              Then, in the dark, I began to find space to give thanks. I gave thanks for my past experiences with the darkness. In knowing this pain, I touch my humanity. I gave thanks to the capacity to be present with the discomfort. Though patience is challenging to muster when we are in pain, I felt gratitude for the faith that the darkness will lift at some point. I pulled all my strength together to put one moment after the next. By some stroke of luck, or sometimes, just patience, that dark will give way to light.

              My own tools are not always a panacea. Sometimes, the dark still hangs about. The darkness has a message for us. Perhaps we have lessons to learn from it. At the very least, it is a reminder that we must embrace all of ourselves. The colors and the shadows add depth to our world. When it is too much, I hope a friend, a conversation, or a shift happens. There is a way out of pain. The course requires walking through the darkness. If it is too difficult, there are resources to find help. For anyone reading who struggles with the dark, I am sending faith. Faith that you can make it past the darkness. I send confidence that the sun will rise again. I trust that her warm rays will kiss your face.