I have struggled with episodes of depression for most of my life; late autumn and early winter are prime times to plummet into the dark, and no surprise. The world is dark. For all that I dread these episodes, I learn so much each and every time it happens, just as I learn so much each winter solstice when the world is turned over to the things that live in the dark. Even those years when I retain my equilibrium, the dark lets me see the world and its inhabitants in shadow-light. Here the tree and its branches against the barely-brighter sky. There the moon-glow from the snow.
This year I find myself sitting in my dark living room, watching the candles flicker and considering the nature of the dark. Without the dark we would not relish the return of the light. We would have no time when we can't call on the excuse of the glare to avoid that which we most need to cherish and consider. Without the dark we would yearn for the solace and stillness it provides. We try to deny it, but it is as much a part of us as the sunlight. We need the balance. We are creatures of night as well as day.
We find ourselves in the dark. We rely less on sight and more on our other senses. I can smell the burning wax, hear the click and hum of the furnace and notice the presence of those long gone. Whether they live only in my imagination or as external phenomena I don't know, and I don't really care. I welcome them into the warmth and faint glow. I can share myself with them here in the night.
In the dark I turn to my own heart for guidance. Without clearly marked paths to travel and instructions from the world, I know only my own rhythm, my own breath, my own life in this very moment.
We are the things that live in the dark, our shadowy selves less defined but welcome. Here. Sit down. Have a cup of tea. I am listening. I am here, with you, in the dark.
(c)2013 Laura S. Packer