Dealing With Our Darkness
Darkness yields light, light yields darkness. As cliche and old as that expression is, the truth of it holds validity every single day with the rising and setting of the sun. For a lot of people, life is about finding as much light as possible. Historically that is the track that we’ve taken. The invention of electricity was a direct result of us longing to be in the light more than the dark. In light we can see, in light things are clear, and in light we can be aware as to where we are and what exactly is going on.
This is obviously true psychologically as much as it is physically. We are surrounded by a culture here in the west that encourages self empowerment. With add slogans like “have it your way” and “put a smile on” we are engrained in a thought process that encourages us to embrace happiness and repress sadness. We laugh off uncomfortable things. The comedians job is to unveil ones unconscious repressions just long enough that they can laugh them off. One laughs out of the uncomfortable truth the comedians truth exposes. When one leaves a comedy show, they may go out to a club with friends, drink to a point of inebriation, and dance to music with a message of inauthentic happiness only to distract themselves from the terrifying unmasking of who they really are that the comedian just exposed only a few hours previously.
We don’t like darkness. We like to hide our ghosts deep within us. But the problem with that is, as Peter Rollins points out so well, is that when we hide our ghosts, they show up at the must unfortunate of times. Creeping up on us to haunt us in our darkest days.
In The Gospel of Thomas which is a part of the Apocrypha (books that weren’t deemed worthy to be in Protestant Bibles but are still in some Catholic ones) there is a quote that reads as follows, “If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what is within you will destroy you.” I find this absolutely fascinating.
The things that haunt us must be unmasked. They must be brought to light in order for us to be able to unveil them. This is why a church can be so toxic if all it talks about is right belief without also promoting attendees to wrestle with and embrace the reality of doubt and questioning.
Sunday services have largely become nothing more than a medication we take once a week to help us repress the difficulties we face Monday through Saturday.
If we don’t deal with the harsh realities and instead try and cover them up with bandaids, those bandaids are bound to fall off.
Drinking to get drunk and hide from reality is a bandaid. Constant clubbing and dancing to pop music about self entitlement is a bandaid. Purchasing products to make you feel accomplished or somehow important is bandaid. A sermon about how you're loved by God and will someday be with “Him” somewhere else is a bandaid. We are a bandaid culture.
Yet everyone knows that even the rawest of wounds need exposure to heal properly. Our wounds need to be brought to light. They must be unmasked in order for them not to scar.
There are many ways to go about this. Honest conversation over a few beers leads to a looseness but functioning consciousness that leads to an openness where individuals can honestly express what’s wrong in their life. In this sense alcohol, is a gift, but we have unfortunately turned it into just another tool to repress our worries and struggles. Other ways to cope with the dark sides of life are movies with sad endings, and my personal favorite, sad songs.
I can almost guarantee your response to some of these suggestions was, “wow, that’s incredibly depressing” or, if you’re my parents, “why is Mikey talking about drinking a few beers…”
However, the reality of the situation is it is not “depressing” but inherently necessary. We are taught to constantly live in light and never deal with darkness, I touched on that in the beginning of this post. That leads to any idea of darkness as being depressing in the mind of most. But I want to argue that is incredibly unhealthy. For if you don’t reveal what is wrong, what is within you will destroy you, as Thomas so eloquently states.
The band Death Cab for Cutie just recently released an album called “Kintsugi.” I’d strongly recommend you check it out. The album title, Kintsugi, derives from an ancient Japanese art where one takes broken pieces of pottery and molds the cracks back together with a gold or silver paste. This form of art doesn’t try and hide the broken pieces tied to it, but portray them as part of the beauty and past of the piece… amazing. I believe we should do the same with our lives. Start trying to unmask your worries, struggles, burdens, ghosts, and sadness. For the transformation of our struggles leads to new and invigorating inspiration.
Below you can find a link to check out some of the Death Cab songs.