It cannot be seen,
It cannot be felt,
Cannot be heard, cannot be smelt,
It lies behind stars and under hills,
And empty holes it fills,
It comes first and follows after,
Ends life, kills laughter.
– J.R.R. Tolkien
Darkness. I would agree that it “ends life, and kills laughter,” but not that it can’t be heard, seen and felt. That is, the darkness inside that we all carry, WILL bear out in life if we let it lie “behind stars and under hills.”
But we do it anyway. Hide it. The meme, supposing to be encouraging says, “Think about the things you like instead of things you hate.” I used to feel a sense of shame when this passed on my scroll. I asked myself, “do I focus on things I hate?” Trying daily to be an optimistic person, I was concerned that my focus was misaligned. What I eventually pieced together is that I cannot really know the things I love if I am not consciously in touch with the things I hate. It’s a bit of yin and yang. One without the other is an incomplete circle.
My friend asked me, a few years ago, “what is it about this situation that is driving you so crazy?” She said, “You know there is not always justice in this world, and that you have no power to bring it about if there was!” Yes. I did know.
But I also knew, those strong feelings living at the tip of my emotional life, were a signal to look under at the iceberg itself. A “yin” that needed an opposing “yang” for complete understanding.
I needed to see that my detest of injustice and deception came from my personal darkness. Because in many ways, isn’t our darkness based in under-lying pain? It may be pain we caused ourselves. It may be pain caused by others. Layer by layer we must dive into the abyss of our personal darkness, to rise up seeing the light. To help us be fully integrated and able to live as whole people, who know why we do what we do and what we stand for and what we won’t stand for.
Another aspect of the darkness of pain is the emotional hate that walks with it. To try to deny the baser human feelings like “hate” is a backwards endeavor. To complain that another has “stolen my joy,” is an act of playing a victim and blame-shifting. (Yes. I hate this vapid expression, it’s on my long shit list.)
It may seem counter-intuitive, to look at hate to find truth, but I must look at my hate and ask, “why.” As I do, I peel back that emotional layer to face the pain. When I do, I will realize that NO ONE can take anything from my soul, as long as I am the owner. And I will own my hate as well, not try to force it down farther or out onto others. As I own it, I am transformed by understanding.
I love Shakespeare, here Macbeth tells us what not to do. Planning to murder an “obstacle” to fulfill his personal desires may seem extreme, but isn’t it a good metaphor for the harsher emotions we hide and deny instead of facing them head on?
“The Prince of Cumberland! that is a step
On which I must fall down, or else o’erleap,
For in my way it lies. Stars, hide your fires;
Let not light see my black and deep desires:
The eye wink at the hand; yet let that be,
Which the eye fears, when it is done, to see.” Macbeth