Illustration: Beauty and the Wild by Grivetart
I can't recall being particularly afraid of the dark when a child, still, I wasn't completely comfortable with it especially when imagination created strange shapes out of objects or shadows. And, I think, you all remember how, suddenly, the covers shifted into an unbreachable fortress keeping us safe from the monsters lurking under the bed.
Under those covers, I did my best at controlling my fear. I stared at those shapes until I figured out how they were formed, and what formed them. Then, what seemed to be the face of the bad witch ready to eat children alive, became the sinuous branch of the tree in front of my window. I noticed the little leaves moving in the wind, which up until then I imagined being her hair. I heard the wind playing through the branches, and the rustling ceased being the sound of the witch's long skirt, inducing me to sleep instead.
Growing up, I also grew to love the dark hours of the night with all the rustling, wind hissing, awkward shapes, and deep human silence. Yet, I found out about the existence of another frightening darkness: the one to which we all fall prisoners at one time or another: that pit filled with regrets, despair, second thoughts, disappointment, resignation, broken hearts and dreams, disillusionment. What cover can protect us from that ugliness of thought and emotion?
For me the same strategy as in childhood works: I don't pretend it's not there, I don't close my eyes thinking it will disappear, I don't run away in the arms of some safe harbour. Instead, I stare at its ugly face and let it dismantle my soul piece by piece until I get accustomed to its presence, to its strategy, to the pain inflicted. I get immune, and once I do that, I realize that the dark pit I'm in is not so scary, so endless, so resourceless as it tries to make me believe.
Darkness is afraid of us, too, and out of that fear, it creates monsters to keep us away from seeing the stair in the middle of it. That stair will help us climb up again.
Childhood taught me the best lesson: there's nothing in the darkness except for what we put in it because the shapes we see cannot be formed without light, as feeble as it may be. There's always light where there's shadow. Here it is! That's your stair!
© Copyright 2014 Irina Serban. All rights reserved