When Darkness Falls

There’s something about the winter sky at twilight that whispers to me.  Maybe it’s the stillness of the cold, crisp air.  Maybe it’s the primitive awareness of the coming night and what it will take to survive it.  Maybe it’s knowing another precious day is spent. Maybe it’s the wake up call before darkness falls.

In the midst of the bright lights, music, laughter, shopping frenzy, and food of the season it can seem way out of place to be talking about darkness.  Yet in the northern hemisphere this is a time of long dark and often cold nights.  For some of us it is a time of inner reflection and stillness.  And for many of us facing financial, family, or personal turmoil the harshness and danger are not very far beneath the bright lights.

If you are facing a long dark night or feeling a bit lost even in the light of day, here are a few things I’ve learned about making it through the night:

Throw out the map. You can’t see it in the dark anyway.  Get dreamy and creative and feel your way.  First remember who you really are and where you are standing now and what you are standing for.  From there you’ll know the next best step.

Lead from your heart. It’s in our animal nature to be afraid of the dark and the unknown.  Love brings light wherever it goes.  Do what you love, be your love, act out of love, share with those you love.  At one of the darkest nights in my life, when I was doubting everything and everyone, when my body and mind were betraying me, I remembered that I loved my child.  If I, broken and crazy, could feel love, then I knew love existed. I clung to that knowing and found my way back to my true self.

Trust yourself. You are creative, capable, and resourceful.  You have made it through darker nights before and will again.  No matter what inner or outer critics might say – trust yourself.  Think of it – you might believe in Divinely given free will: such ultimate trust of you!  Or if you don’t, then consider this exquisite evolving universe.  Evolution is fundamental to this system.  A system in which evolution is fundamental is one in which trust is fundamental.  The universe trusts you. You can trust yourself to be able to handle whatever the unknown presents you.

Undress for success. No, not as in stripping for cash.  As in take off the costumes and masks we all wear because we think we need to hide our true selves from the world.  In the chatty and festive light of day we may feel that hiding our unique brilliance will make us more likely to succeed.  Even if that were true in the daylight, it is not at all true in the darkness.  We need sure and fluid movement, comfort in our own skin, freedom to explore possibilities, confidence to express ourselves.  We absolutely have to stop worrying about what others think of us if we want to find our way.

Dream as much as you can – and then dream some more. Dreams hold our hope, our songs, our creativity, our solutions, our best selves.  Sure, we need to put legs under our dreams and the darker the night, the more dreaming we need.  The doing will come soon enough with the dawn.

Get a regular dose of belly laughs. One winter when there was a collective frenzy of worry about a pending flu epidemic, I decided to follow Norman Cousins’ way of healing through laughter.  For 6 weeks we watched nothing but comedies on TV.  No dramas, no dead body parts, no mysteries or reality shows.  We rented all the comedies we could find. We laughed our heads off.  And it shifted everything about us.  We were happier, more optimistic, more gregarious and not one of us got the flu or even a sniffle.

Be a really good friend – to everyone you meet. The way we have survived as a species through ice ages and very long dark nights has always been as a community.  We need our strong and healthy relationships, we need to gather around the fire together and take turns being on the look-out.  Changing our focus from what others can give to us to how we can help and befriend those in even more need is pure magic.  Try it and see.

I know there are others of you, my readers, who are really good at navigating in the night.  I’d love for you to tell me your stories, to share your hard-earned wisdom.  That’s one thing we can all do to support each other – share our stories and be generous with our encouragement.   Holding hands is always good, too.


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