So Much Dark


One winter day, I attended church and had convinced myself that our pastor was wearing two different sock colors on his feet. The sermon must have been not quite up to snuff, because I was staring around at things, instead of listening to what was going on up front. In fact, I became so convinced that I called him after the service to ask. Wow. Does my mind really go to places like that, and become so obsessed? Yeah. Indeed it does. So I got a grumpy response. “No. No I did not wear two different kinds of socks.” I think I woke him from a nap. That’s me, folks, always thinking about fashion, even if it means annoying others.

I can understand how a mistake would be made like that. In the dimness of the morning, trying not to wake anyone, I’ve put on a green, instead of a red, shirt. It all looks gray in the early morning. I’ve thrown on two different socks. I’ve even put my underpants on backwards. We need light to really make us functional beings.

Light is generally a biological imperative. But dark is pretty good too. I mean, if it didn’t get dark sometimes, how would I know when to lock up the beer to keep the vampires out?

That’s my son Daniel by the way… When he was 4 years old, he told us “I know about vampires. They come into your house during the night, and when you’re fast asleep, they sneak up to you and drink your beer.”

Recently, scientists have discovered never-before-seen deep sea critters in the Mariana Trench. Boxy jellyfish (they’re neither jelly, nor fish… Who names these things?), little spiky dancing plankton, and … you know… other stuff that darts around in the dark. Those deep sea creatures who carry around their own luminescence have always impressed me.

I was never afraid of the dark as a kid, much less monsters of the night. I would have night terrors on occasion, but it had nothing to do with the dark, except that I generally was asleep during the night. In fact, I enjoyed the night. Until I was thirteen years old, my bedtime was 8PM. Then it was extended to 10. Then, my mother told me I could stay up as late as I wanted, but she’d better not hear me complaining about being tired the next morning. I seldom stayed awake past 10 anyhow. Rural Oregon couldn’t compare to the Miami party scene.

I love the classic opposites like light and dark. It is funny how we get all bent out of shape because our language forces us to take sides over the issue. We associate light with good, and dark with evil. Gandalf shines like a thing from heaven. The balrog radiates smoke and anti-light. But Light and dark are good. Like yin and yang, push and pull, Luke and Vader. Shadow and substance. Ernie and Bert. You know the game. We can’t have one without the other. If everything was all light everywhere, we wouldn’t be able to see a thing. If everything was all dark everywhere… Same thing.

I don’t choose darkness. I’m not fond of fumbling around trying to make sure my pants aren’t inside out. But I value it. I guess, when it comes to the point, you need the darkness as much as you need the light, if for no other reason than it reminds you that the light is out there in the first place.

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