“The real meaning of enlightenment is to gaze with undimmed eyes on all darkness.” – Nikos Kazanzakis
I was an anxious child with a fierce spirit, a wild imagination and a paralysing fear of the dark. In the whirlpool that was my tiny young mind, at night, the world transformed and my greatest fears emerged and roamed the earth. In darkness, I could not escape them, for without light, I could neither face them nor run from them.
In adulthood, that darkness has evolved. I am grown now, as are my fears. And yet still I find myself desperately chasing the light on my quest for good, better, best.
For, now, the darkness represents the ‘unknown’; the ‘uncertain’ or the ‘uncontrollable’.
Where my smaller self sought the light to ward off imaginary monsters and demons (oh my!), my larger self seeks only to escape the paralysing fear of what I cannot predict, solve or attain.
Alas, I am not alone in these fears.
I am simply just another participant in a human RACE, obsessed with forward momentum, equipped with an insatiable desire to try harder, be better, do more, have more, HAVE IT ALL.
We drip blood, sweat and tears over our keyboards 12 hours a day and then edit out the dark circles under our eyes with an app and a filter.
We are so consumed with moving forward…moving towards the perfect life we’re told we can all have (#blessed) if we just sell another piece of our souls to the companies that we’re either working for (#girlboss), buying from (#ootd) or both.
We fear failure. We fear those quiet moments where discomfort bubbles in our stomachs. We fear all the things we cannot see and do not know.
But most of all, we fear stagnation.
To be standing still in this world we occupy is death.
The world is a raging tide of senseless noise, a million mouse clicks and plastic shopping bags floating along gutters but it’s ok guys (!) – WE ARE BUSY. WE ARE ACHIEVING. WE ARE WINNING.
There is no pause button.
And yet here I am. On pause. In the darkness.
I had my life planned. I lived it – in all its glory – for a decade. But I didn’t find what I was looking for within it. So instead here I find myself, wondering about what’s next for me.
I’ve penned my thoughts before on the role of darkness on our life’s path. I do not believe our futures are predetermined, but I trust that our intuition – the ‘gut feel’ that so many of us spend half our lives trying to ignore – is there to attract us to that which is in alignment with our purpose for being here.
These last few weeks, I have found myself propelled on a personal crusade for my next opportunity, attempting to escape the darkness, trying desperately to unpause myself.
Fuelled by a mental swarm of fears and unknowns, I have been so busy trying to make sure I am in the right place at the right time for this supposed ‘right’ opportunity to find me…that of course it hasn’t.
And in its place, I have instead found myself waiting in the darkness, scratching my head.
It’s been both incredibly uncomfortable and incredibly enlightening.
For when you can’t see ahead and you’re tired of looking behind, you find a different kind of pause. You find powerful moments of presence and contemplation.
You realise the darkness you’ve been running from is not to be feared. That your inertia is not a state of stagnation, but one of masterful inactivity.
Because in darkness there is no hiding. You must face yourself without a shield of ego, status or armour. And you must face your fears.
In the light, you can run from them and fool yourself into thinking you are protected by the sparkle of the ‘perfect’ life you’re building, but this is just the story you’re telling yourself.
Because when the light goes out – as it tends to do in times of change, hardship or death – darkness lies in waiting.
I’ve spent a good part of my life doing everything in my power to avoid inertia – my self worth has depended on it. I have barrelled my way up corporate ladders, squirrelled away tens of thousands of dollars and danced to whatever tune the most successful people I knew were playing to ensure that I would never find myself stuck and out of control of my future.
And yet here I am. On pause. In the darkness.
Standing still, and yet, still standing.
Here, in the darkness, I have realised that the very thing I was most afraid of is not a threat; but instead a teacher.
Within it, I have learned about my crippling need for control, its unhelpful manifestation: perfectionism, and its destructive by-product, worry.
And I have found comfort.
I have found comfort in knowing that I can sit in this space and survive it. That this me, just as I am, is more resilient than any of the versions of myself I’ve lived before.
I have found comfort in the belief that whatever the next right thing for me is, it will find me right where I am. It may not be perfect and it may not be on my timeline, but the more I worry about it, the less likely I’ll be to recognise it when it does.
I have found comfort in knowing that – in this moment and every uncertain moment that follows – I have a choice.
A choice to wait in peace in the darkness for the light.
Or a choice to be consumed by it.
I choose peace. Do you?