“You can’t have a light without a dark to stick it in”. – Arlo Guthrie
This is about the darkness that lurks within, whether darkness breathes on its own <has its own existence> and … well … light bulbs.
Darkness and light and this whole ‘is darkness a real thing or not’ thought.
Never before has such a thought so seamlessly intertwined itself in faith, science, Life, personal evaluation and hope than this simple thought.
Is there such a thing as darkness?
Is it simply absence of light <therefore all holds within it light … to be found.>?
This is a potential Life truth <at minimum an important Life thought> which seems enormously simple and at the same time enormously complex.
What I do know is that in the art world … black is not a color … it is simply an absence of white.
Making a leap … that implies there is no such thing as darkness.
Is that truth?
Here is what I like about the concept.
Dark & darkness … on paper, in your mind, soul or Life … what can seem so vast and overwhelming in its depth of seeming emptiness … is actually nothing more than an absence of light.
As long as you keep that thought in your mind … darkness can never really win.
It also implies darkness is never complete.
It is never a ‘whole.’
It is simply seeking to become a ‘whole.’
“There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” – Leonard Cohen
Darkness attempts to fill the cracks in life. But those cracks … those imperfections <in Life and self> are what actually let light in.
Yup. In those cracks in Life is how the light gets in.
<by the way … I love that thought>
I personally believe that while philosophical we can argue there is no such thing as darkness … reality tells us darkness exists. It is in shadows. It is within us. It can be found everywhere.
But I also personally believe that Dark cannot push back light.
Darkness exists only when light fails … or simply gives up.
As long as light accepts its own existence … it will bar the path of darkness.
The corollary to that is the thought that darkness cannot attack you all on its own.
Think about this.
If it helps … try this on for size … if you light a candle in a large dark room a disproportionate amount of darkness disappears … the darkness cannot proactively attack and smother the light. In fact … it is the opposite … the tiny light attacks the vast areas of darkness … darkness only lurks awaiting the extinguishing of light … only then can darkness thrive.
Then there is science.
Scientifically light has existence as elemental particles/waves <photons I believe> in motion as electromagnetic radiation. I mention this because this can be measured in a lab, science has defined and even personally we can measure it as sunlight hitting the skin resulting in a tangible outcome … suntan or sunburn.
Scientifically <I believe> darkness does not exist. There are no elemental particles of darkness and darkness cannot be measured or sensed … it is simply a void <hence the term ‘black hole’>.
Theoretically this suggests that what does exist when we label something ‘darkness’ , scientifically, is the relative absence of light.
Now that I have some science on my side.
Life has always contained this duality … I call it a contradiction but if it is easier to accept the thinking … stay clear of contradiction and focus on duality.
A duality within Truth in regard to lies and truth … love and hate … positive and negative … fear and fearless <and a bunch more if I really wanted to come up with more>.
Despite the fact this conceptual abstraction <light and darkness defined as polar opposites … while they may not be at actually at opposite ends of the spectrum> can we give darkness a name?
“Does this darkness have a name? This cruelty, this hatred, how did it find us? Did it steal into our lives or did we seek it out and embrace it? What happened to us that we now send our children into the world like we send young men to war, hoping for their safe return, but knowing that some would be lost along the way. When did we lose our way? Consumed by the shadows. Swallowed whole by the darkness. Does this darkness have a name? Is it your name? “– Lucas Scott
Darkness may not have one name.
Well … okay … maybe one … forgetfulness.
We forget the good in life, the good in people … and the good in ourselves. We forget … which leads to doubt, disappointment and despair.
Darkness consumes in our forgetfulness. It steals into our lives so that it can invite anger, greed, hate, disappointment, doubt, jealousy and other negatives into Life.
Therefore is darkness the absence of goodness or happiness? Those things like hatred, anger, anxiety and greed? Are they present only when there absence of Light?
I imagine the thought is that if dark cannot attack … it can only swallow you, if you permit it to.
In addition … I like to think of it as the light flows into someone and the dark pulls from someone.
The light pulls one into reality.
The dark actually blinds you from reality <or maybe it simply hides reality>.
I could ramble on this topic forever.
And I will not be able to offer any conclusive answers.
I will admit that at the beginning of writing this with the great quotes I found I envisioned a thoughtful philosophical epiphany-like read … instead I found the questioning non productive and the answers more simple than we think.
I will use literature to explain what I do know.
“… to get back up to the shining world from there. My guide and I went into that hidden tunnel; Where we came forth, and once more saw the stars.” – Dante
These concluding words of Inferno describe Dante and Virgil’s climb out of the underworld and back to the surface of the Earth.
This image symbolizes the idea that Dante has begun his slow climb out of sin and confusion <darkness> and has taken a step toward optimism <God/heaven in this case> embodied in stars <points of light>.
Light is hope.
Light is optimism.
Light is clarity.
On a separate note.
I think is significant that Purgatorio, Paradiso and Inferno all end with the same word:
- stele <the stars>
Stars which symbolize light.
“Light is knowledge, light is life, light is light.” – Northern Exposure
What I know <or I imagine> my real point is that darkness lurks everywhere … inside you and in the outside world.
We all have some dark places lurking. Heck. Even Mother Theresa had some <albeit we never spoke about this … she was a Lakers fan and I am a Celtics fan so we couldn’t get past that>.
And this Darkness is sneaky, stealthy, persistent and stronger than it should be.
And while it may simply be absence of light … or however you would like to explain it … in the end … dark is dark.
Darkness is darkness.
We all have it … and we all face it at some point in our lives … and if you are unlucky … every day.
And just as well … light is light.
But they are not equal.
As noted earlier even the smallest light can destroy exponentially larger amounts of dark.
Therefore we should seek light.
Which brings me to light bulbs.
In august 2010 I used this quote: “It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.” – Marianne Williamson in this post: http://brucemctague.com/powerful-beyond-measure
She suggests “… your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine.”
We all need light bulbs … inside and outside us.
And sometimes we need to turn on the light bulb because we are meant to shine.
And we should go buy a light bulb anywhere we can to light the darkest corners of our mind and soul … and light ourselves to remind ourselves we aren’t … well … small.
And you know what?
It doesn’t matter where.
I am not a religious person but I respect the churches & religion.
Well … I fund this quote somewhere … “… in a way the church is a business. People are born with dark places in their souls … the church sells them light bulbs.”
I respect anyone and any place that offers light bulbs to those in need.
Sometimes we, myself included, are too quick to point out the flaws in organized religion.
I tend to believe it doesn’t matter where you buy your light bulbs … just get one when you need it.
This particular light bulb isn’t really hope … it is more a belief. A belief that shrinks the darkness calling itself doubt, or anger, or disappointment, or whatever negative aspect you can think of … back into its corner.
This light bulb reminds you that there is not an absence of self in which darkness can find a home.
Light bulbs can be handy in Life.
Because we all need light to stave off the darkness that lurks.
And maybe we all need to shine.