It’s midnight. I can see the time shining bright on my phone, lighting up my darkened room. I know I should probably be asleep, but I just feel…empty. Then suddenly I have this strange urge…
I get up out of bed and walk to my door, opening it. Soon, I find myself in the garage in the dark…and I’m not afraid.
Like most children, when I was little I was afraid of the dark. It’s an irrational fear, but you can’t see anything in the dark. There is always the possibility that something terrible could be there, waiting, lurking in the darkness. The irrational fear of the dark is something manifested from my imagination. The dark side of my imagination.
Much like night and day, humans have dark and light imaginations. It’s an interesting concept to think about. Most often, the dark side is pushed away and the light side is the only thing we want in our lives. Unicorns, rainbows, cupcakes, love, etc. and what we don’t like to think about are monsters, sorrow, pain, death, etc. But what most people fail to understand is that there has to be darkness to balance out the light. Good and evil, light and dark, black and white, night and day. Who would Luke be if there weren’t Darth Vader? Or Harry Potter without Voldemort? God and the devil, good and evil. The people and situations we are thrown into, good or bad, are what define us. Much like the good and bad parts we all have inside of us. One does not exist without the other.
So why are we afraid of the dark? It’s simple. We’re not afraid of the dark per say, we’re afraid of the unknown. We’re afraid that there could be a monster under our bed, a thief in our home, a killer or mad man on the loose, a ghost/spirits, or demons waiting to attack like in that horror movie you watched before bed (which is a terrible idea by the way).
And sometimes it isn’t as simple as turning on a light. Sometimes you can’t see and you’re just stumbling around blind, bumping into things, taking it one step at a time. And we forget that sorrow, darkness, pain…it’s okay. It’s okay to feel that way. It means you’re alive. It means you’re human.
As I walk through the darkened garage, sliding past the parked cars, it doesn’t seem scary to me at all. I open the side door slowly and make my way outside, into the night air.
This is new for me. Usually, the night scares me. It’s a different kind of darkness than inside a house where there is only furniture and the occasional cat or dog. Outside, in the dark, there are creatures that lurk there. They hide during the day and come out at night where they can’t be seen by human eyes. But these creatures are not evil, and they do not wish me any ill will. They are innocent creatures just trying to survive.
And as I step out onto the driveway that is on top of a hill, barefooted in my pajamas, I feel something welling up inside my chest. I lookout across the tops of houses and trees, seeing the lake, then the Blue Ridge Mountains peaking out from behind it. And in that moment, in a driveway in the dark, I see the world in a whole new light.
I sit down in the middle of the driveway and just listen to the world around me as fireflies fly past me, blinking in yellow and green. Just breathing in the night time air feels magical.
Sitting there, I feel like I’m not supposed to be there. Like it is forbidden to be wandering this late at night in the dark when no one is around but the fireflies…and it’s thrilling. When I was younger, if I tried to walk alone in the dark of the night, my head would start spinning as if my conscience was trying to pull me away. It was almost as if my fear of the darkness was so strong that even when I wanted to walk in it, I couldn’t let myself. Yet, here I am in the middle of it, and I feel just fine.
I lay back on the concrete and look up at the sky. The moon is tucked away and the only light is coming from the stars and the neighbor’s garden lights. I watch a few wispy clouds roll past the twinkling stars and I wonder why anyone ever sleeps indoors. It is then that I slowly feel the emptiness fill all the way up and those stars don’t seem so far away.
You see, we’re afraid of the dark, but we forget to look up at the stars. The stars bring us comfort and hope. That is why I believe they were put there, to remind us that we are never alone, that there is nothing to fear in the darkness, and that there is always hope.
And I have come to realize, the darkness doesn’t make us scared cowards. It makes us brave, courageous souls who carry on into the night. For the darkness was created so we could sleep, and we sleep so we can dream.
In the night, I finally feel free. In the darkness, I can see. And once more I have found that stars shine the brightest when the night is at it’s darkest.