Thursday, May 8, 2014

Afraid of the Dark

(From "Does This Life Make My Butt Look Big?" Originally written Wednesday, January 23, 2008)

Last Friday night I attended the premiere of my friend Richard Dutcher’s latest film Falling. I almost wrote "I had the pleasure of attending" but watching the film was anything but pleasurable. By that I don't mean that it was bad or not worth seeing - quite the contrary. It was brilliant. And bold. And brutal. 

I did have the wouldn't-trade-for-the-world pleasure of working with Richard for several years at Zion Films / Main Street Movie Co. and consider him to be one of my closest friends. Me and Richard, and our mutual love of all things warped, stuck in an office on a Friday afternoon, laughing until we pee, is something few people should ever be subjected to. Simply put - I adore the man. Local critics and rival filmmakers can say whatever they want but you gotta give him this - he is one hell of a cinematic story teller. And a pretty cool human too.

Much as I would love to have a Richard Dutcher love fest right now - that's not the point of this post. I spent a lot of time after the film thinking about darkness. Honestly, one of the things I loved the most about Falling was that it so apologetically took me to the raw center of some very ugly darkness and didn't try to make it okay. It didn't attempt to wrap it up neatly or make watching remotely comfortable. It presented something for examination and then just left me alone to wrestle and sort for myself.

Now, I am not one that is "into" darkness. I don't love violence and things that are generally labeled "evil." I detest horror movies. I refuse to watch the news because it actively works too damn hard against my extremely hard earned belief that this world is NOT, after all, a shitty place to be. I believe that every one of us having this human experience ought to rock the world for good. That, in our individual circles of influence - large or small, we have an obligation and a blessed opportunity to leave this world a better place than we found it.

But does that mean that we need to bury our heads in the sand and pretend that darkness doesn't exist? No. Just because we ignore it doesn't mean it's not there. There will always be others creating it. Does that mean that we need to embrace it, give it our energy and feed on a daily diet of it? Of course not. Does it mean we need to cower in the corner shielding our eyes from it? Absolutely not. Darkness is nothing to be feared.

I think darkness can be a great teacher. I think darkness bears examining because it mirrors for us our own, and others, humanity. It deepens our human experience. It gives us an experience that makes us reach towards light. It provides a contrast from which more light is created.

So many people run screaming, with eyes and ears tightly closed, from anything they feel is dark. Especially if it is internal. Taking a look at our own personal darkness can be the most frightening - but the most rewarding. The only way out of darkness is through it. The only way to diminish darkness is to shine some light on it.

We need to not be children crying for an emotional night light. Darkness doesn’t have to be scary, it just is what it is - whatever we allow it to be. And for me it is a teacher, a mirror and an important piece of my spiritual and emotional compass. It is something to recognize, to face, to learn from and then to move through and beyond.

Because the light that is beyond the darkness is absolutely breathtaking.