Where do I begin? How do I even begin to successfully describe “the darkness” as anything other than exactly that? I have grown up in a time where it seems as if “the darkness” is on display at every turn. The first 5 minutes of the local or world news telling of terrible tragedies. A child who was taken too soon, whether by illness, accident, or at the hands of someone else, or his/her own hands. Standing behind someone in line who scraped together the last bit of change she had to pay for her groceries. The trials of daily life. People having entered your life, having only contributed negativity. And perhaps the most difficult aspect of “the darkness” to accept is that we carry on through it as if we are blind, as if we are deaf, as if we are numb beings only to crumble apart when “the darkness” somehow permeates our personal bubbles. And even then we sometimes manage to turn a blind eye to our pain…
In school I studied Journalism and a large part of my studies were centered around news reporting. When I first entered college I wanted to be a news reporter or anchor. By the time I graduated I was so repulsed by the idea of being involved in the news reporting world that I shifted my focus from journalism to the much broader communications field. I was repulsed by the loss of humanity in the news. I was repulsed by the seemingly loss of humanity in our society. Of course there’s a technical term for this, it is called “desensitization” , which means because we are exposed to “the darkness” (sad, terrible, horrible things) so often we just learn to not let it affect us as much. We begin to accept it as just a normal part of life. We can watch the news and hear about a child who was senselessly gunned down in a parking lot and not bat an eyelash. We can, as I so vividly remember because I witnessed this, watch as a news anchor tells the morning viewers of a fatal car crash on I-285 that took the life of an unidentified 18 year old man and to take an alternate route because “traffic is going to be an absolute mess” with no reference at all to the fact that a life was just lost, that a parent’s world was just shattered. Where was the humanity? Oh, that’s right, desensitization has taken over that emotion. We have become desensitized to what others are going through and what we ourselves are going through.
I am experiencing one of the darkest times in my life thus far and in the midst of it I began to rediscover this humanity within myself that had been repeatedly buried over the years due to desensitization. The fact that I felt like I was in shambles on the inside and on the outside looked as if I’d just been given a free trip to Paris. I was fighting. I was fighting with every atom of my being to hide it which caused me to tap into the emotions of others. Whenever I leave my house and interact with all of the people who inhabit this world, behind that smile or even behind that frown or hardened look on someone’s face, I know that there’s a story. I have found a new sense of empathy and beyond that a new sense of respect. Respect for the fact that each of us, no matter what we are going through, has the courage to get out into the world with our vulnerabilities, insecurities, stories, and suffering. And moreover, that these individuals who are struggling to light candles to guide them through this dark path that they are traveling don’t project their darkness onto others.
It was within this realization that I discovered that there are two types of “darkness”. One type is what I would consider the type that I’m experiencing, that most people experience. The darkness that is meant to bring you down into the trenches of yourself and teach you something, often times to teach you many things. The type of darkness that is meant to awaken dormant emotions within you. Often these dormant emotions are the ones that directly connect you with the Divine. Today’s society teaches us to quiet these feelings, subdue them, not listen to them — this comes from a place of deep-seated fear within our society. Emotional people make things happen, desensitized people don’t. Emotional people seek change, desensitized people forego change for acceptance of a “new normal”. It is my belief that the second type of darkness, the worst type of darkness there is, is born from the first type of darkness if it fails to be channeled correctly.
This second type of darkness keeps people willfully mired down in the idea that “the darkness” is a venus fly-trap of sorts. Interesting and alluring on the outside, because a fly will land on the trap on its own accord, most probably out of curiosity. Then within a matter of about 20 seconds it is trapped! There is usually no way out for the fly at this point. That is exactly how this second type of darkness works. But, wait a moment, I’m sure you’re thinking, who in his/her right mind chooses darkness? The answer is, and this may sound cliche, but the truth is that darkness chooses us. The Darkness will choose each and everyone us at some point or another in our lives. Whether it’s the loss of a loved-one, a difficult trial in life, a vendetta against someone who has done you wrong, etc. The fact of the matter is that life and the Divine puts obstacles and trials on our individual paths, this is done with the intention of helping us grow to become our best individual selves. However, unfortunately, instead of evolving into our highest selves, some people become a proponent of the darkness and project this darkness onto every person they encounter. Or in some instances, cast this darkness so deeply over their own lives that they become trapped in the amber of the darkness. This type of darkness sees no way out, sees no light. This type of darkness becomes so desensitized that experiencing and feeling anything other than this darkness becomes so foreign that they find themselves creating a comfort zone of pain.
Fortunately, for all of us, there is a way out of this type of darkness and it starts with choice. Choosing to seek out the most positive lessons of the first type of darkness to prevent it from evolving into the second type. But, if we miss this opportunity and find ourselves experiencing the second type of darkness we must choose to tap into our own humanity. People experiencing the second type of darkness fear change. They fear positive change, they fear negative change, they fear change in general and they fear feeling. They fear tapping into their own humanity because that means opening themselves up to not only their individual pain, but to other’s pain as well. Being this open hurts them and hurts a lot of people not experiencing this type of darkness because fear tells us that feeling doesn’t necessarily equate to an improvement of our conditions or others’. We see ourselves as such minute beings that we don’t think we can change the world, we don’t believe that we have the ability to change the world’s conditions if we can’t change our own. This notion is so wrong and I realize this more than ever.
I stopped being desensitized, tapped into my own darkness and rediscovered my humanity. That in turn propelled me to write this piece which may in turn help someone else, which in turn could help someone else and so forth and so on. When we discover our connection to ourselves, we discover our connection to the Universe and to the Divine which tells us that we are connected to every other being, nature and people. This doesn’t mean people won’t purposefully hurt you and try to cause you pain and cause you to suffer. In fact, opening yourself up makes you an even bigger target. This doesn’t mean that now your life and path will be devoid of obstacles and trials. This doesn’t mean you won’t find yourself in “the darkness” ever again. This just means that when you can recognize your own humanity, you can recognize it or the lack of it in others. This is inherently your escape out of the darkness. Recognizing that someone is experiencing darkness changes how you view them and shapes your interactions with them, which if done correctly can enhance the overall quality of your own life and can cause positive change to occur elsewhere.
Stop being desensitized!!! Take a moment to feel the tragedies of everyday life, they should make you sad or angry, they should make you want to reach out. Senseless killing, religious persecution, radical extremism, bullying, the plight of teachers, a person suffering from cancer or a rare illness should move you. These problems exist and they shouldn’t cause you to view them as a new normal. Wake up and FEEL! Reach out to help ease someone else’s burden and I think you’ll be surprised at how yours may feel a little lighter. The darkness only wins when you become so desensitized that you extinguish your own light.
With SO Much Love,