The first week after we all “fall back” is always hard for me even though I love the morning light because I get up early. Just wait until we “spring forward.” If I am still writing this blog (and I hope to be), you will never hear such ferocious whining as I will do in March when my early morning light gets—by an act of Congress—snatched from me for an extra month of darkness. But beyond the light in the morning, I have trouble sleeping and am tired most of the week.
I once had a student, a boy of 5, whose father carried him into my house under protest the week we “fell back.”
He screamed, “But I don’t come for my lesson at night!”
I understand this so well. It bothered me, too. He was a “daylight student.”
I used to think that tampering with the clocks for no good reason – i.e. an act of Congress– twice a year would confuse the cats. But they are like Arizona. They don’t observe daylight and standard time changes. They just whine at me earlier or later to serve them. But cats are Zen about everything except the vacuum cleaner and other cats.
I used to run a spook house every year in October. I have the perfect set-up for it. There are two structures on my property: there’s the house I live in, built in 1936, and a little homesteader cabin built in 1880.
The cabin in the back was just asking to be made into a spook house. When the previous owners painted the two structures preparatory to selling, they sprayed Prussian green paint right over the leaded glass windows in the old cabin. That’s enough provocation to be haunted by earlier residents, many of whom are no doubt buried right next door in Crown Hill cemetery. But what I discovered the first year we did the spook house was that mostly all you need is the dark.
We didn’t have any special effects. We had mechanisms like the “ankle grabbers.” These were usually kids who had gone through the spook house once and wanted to be behind the scenes. I let them hide in corners until someone came along, then they could reach out and grab an ankle. We made ten year old tough boys cry and earned the respect of some of the dads by means this simple. We had the Dark.
Because I am fascinated with the unconscious, I think a lot about the dark, the subterranean depths. We are afraid of what we can’t see because we think that to see something means we know what it is. Yet we believe in all kinds of things we can’t see: the wind, love, evil, goodness.
We think that if we can’t see something, it isn’t there. As long as we aren’t actively aware of jealous feelings, as an example, we feel quite righteous about saying we haven’t a jealous bone in our body. But if there’s not a jealous bone is someone’s body, that person is dead. Feeling jealousy is part of what it is to be human. With other people, it’s their tenderness that’s in the dark.
The light can be just as obfuscating as the dark. I get impatient with new age thinking that champions the light and with people who are eager to reach what they call enlightenment. Superimposing eastern ideas over a western upbringing usually results in thinking as simplistically as those Christians who think there is an actual heaven located somewhere above the clouds. Once someone “gets” to heaven or to enlightenment, it’s not like he or she is actually going to “be” there to enjoy it. You’re gone at that point. There’s no ego left. To my friends who want only light in their lives, I say good luck to you. When all you’ve got is light, you’re going to explode. Being in the light is not like lying in the warmth of the sun at the beach.
The dark defines the light and the light the dark. As long as we’re breathing we need both. I am letting this thought help me through these next few weeks.