Friday, July 7, 2017

The Long View: Being, in no particular order, 25 things I've bumped into along the way and have not forgotten. Yet.

19. Darkness
1969. I'm 16, having just emerged from the darkness of childhood, now wondering what darkest adulthood has to offer. The Youngbloods release a particularly appropriate anthem, "Darkness, Darkness." It opens with a haunting, sawing cello riff that chases the darkness from my teenage brain whenever I hear it. "Darkness, darkness, be my pillow," goes the first line. What do we make of darkness, how do we cope with it? The Manson murders are everywhere in the news. Manson explains, "From the world of darkness I did loose demons and devils in the power of scorpions to torment." America shudders. Altamont is imminent. How does this sunshine and rainbows generation deal with that? In my childhood it was the imaginary bears populating my bedroom, dwelling in the darkness. Then it was the darkness that dwelled inside my mother and sent her away to a dark place for months at a time. I left home to escape it, but my own darkside accompanied me. Later, I found a way to conquer it, read something Twain, that dark soul, wrote about it: "Courage is not the absence of fear," he said, "it's the conquest of it." I found courage in that. Darkness did not become my friend nor my pillow, but it ceased being my enemy. I learned to navigate it, not allow it to cripple me, even if it insisted it accompany me wherever I went, day and night, alone or with friends and lovers. I learned to cultivate it for my own creative purposes, let it consume itself like a hoopsnake. It was Mark Twain, first, later Carl Jung who helped me. "Knowing your own darkness," Jung wrote," is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people."

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