Darkness and Light

Light-is-creationOn the autumnal equinox, it seemed a good time to write about darkness and light. There are two equinoxes a year, one in the fall and one in the spring; both occur when night and day are fairly equal in length, but one is just about to overtake the other for a season. Nature is constantly teaching us, but there are some lessons we don’t want to learn. It’s not comfortable to face your own mortality, to realize that long after you’re gone the earth will still be spinning, and there will be an iPhone 90 you’ll never get to see (do I have to say I’m joking?). That your grandchildren (should you have any), and their grandchildren, and theirs, too, will go on and on, that at least some form or piece of you will continue in that way, if not more, but that you, you sitting inside that body you’re in, reading this with those particular eyeballs of yours, you will not be here. (I don’t believe your essence or your energy or your soul or whatever you’d like to call it will die, I believe in the continuation of consciousness, but I don’t know if I’m right about that, and I won’t until my last breath. And neither will anyone else.) Intense, right? But we have to keep it real, because realness now is all we have for sure.

In between the time of now and your last exhale, you will face periods of darkness, and times of incredible light. Life brings it all to us, and sometimes there’s overlap. A lot of darkness with some twinkles of light here and there, like stars in the blackest sky. Or a lot of light with some shades of gray now and again; a spring rainstorm. Many people resist the darkness, and of course it’s understandable, because what do you often find when the light goes out? Despair, longing, confusion, fear, doubt, anxiety, grief, guilt, shame, loneliness, and the sharp pieces of any places you have not healed. But that’s exactly where you need to head in order to heal those deepest wounds. To acknowledge them rather than deny them. To sit with them and weep until the heat of whatever has been plaguing you is released. To open to your total vulnerability if you allow yourself to put down the armor. There’s no need to fear your darkness. And the truth is, you’ll never have sustained light if you’re on the run, and you can’t experience one without the other, either. Without sorrow, how would you ever know joy? If everything was always wonderful, joy would just be normal, like another sunny 75 degree day in Los Angeles. Not that we take it for granted out here, but how else to explain the drama when we get a drizzle? How can it dare not to be sunny??

Anyway, my point is, as much as we might prefer the light, the darkness is part of the deal. If you look back on your life, I believe you’ll have to admit that the periods of greatest turmoil and discomfort were also periods of the most growth. It may not have been growth you wanted. And I believe there are some experiences that are so knifing it’s unrealistic to ever expect to be grateful for having had them, but we don’t get to choose. We don’t get to say, yes, I’ll take these losses and disappointments and heartbreaks, but not these other ones. Sometimes we have to die a kind of death to be reborn into the life we want to be living. We have to face our dragons and slay them, and pick up the shell of ourselves and that gorgeous heart we’ve been given, and start to fill in the space around it with a new way of being and seeing and thinking. We have to release the idea of saving a relationship that has no hope, or staying in a job that feels like a prison, and start all over again. We have to watch as our leaves fall off and remember we’re going to blossom again, but first we may be bare, cold, and brittle, hit in the face by hail, cold down to our roots.

The autumnal equinox is seen as a period of changes leading to the darkness of winter, but it’s also an invitation to balance the darkness and light within us. Fearing the dark and clinging to the light is the surest way to suffer. Watching the leaves fall reminds us to let go of those things that have been weighing us down, to remember we are not in control of anything but ourselves, and even that can be challenging. To remember the impermanence of all things so that you celebrate each moment, each season, each shift. So that you leave nothing in that tank. Wishing you love, as always. Ally

6 thoughts on “Darkness and Light”

  1. Wow! Beautiful, poetic, and oh so timely (and not just because of the time of year). I am currently in the process of shedding the vast majority of my leaves. I have been cold to my roots for a while now, and looking at colder weather to come. And yet – I have so much gratitude for what is still nurturing, authentic and connected in my life. I am most grateful for the awareness that this is the way it has to be – that the most important choice I can make right now is the choice to hold both light at dark together, and not try to make them mutually exclusive qualities. There is beauty, grace and even some comfort to lean on as morale-boosting resource in even the most rigorous and painful challenges, when I am able to remember that. Your post today is a wonderful reminder! Thank you!

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