Good evening ladies and gentleman
in 1992 Iron Maiden released what has become an all time classic rock song- “Fear of the Dark.” In a logical sense of fear, it is to describe a thing- an adjective that when presented with a certain action or phenomenon in any particular situation- it produces the cold sweat, the raised heartbeat, the feeling of ringing in your ears as you prepare for the battle coming, even if it never leaves your mind…
Fears in the physical sense are easily tangible, malleable if you will. Arachnophobia, avoid dark moist spaces. Aquaphobia- avoid the pool. Simple enough right. This way fear is never a problem and on you go, through the ins and outs of modern life. No fear, no problem.
What of the more complex fears though- a fear you maybe didn’t even realise you had? For years an almost self-sabotaging nature so many of us have been living with- limiting what can go right and ultimately what has the scope to go wrong…”it can’t hurt me if it never gets close enough to” and so on.
Marianne Williamson once said
“our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.”
Nyctophobia- fear of the dark. Do you fear the lack of light in a room? Or do you fear not being able to control what’s going on in that room- or simpler still control your reaction to it? Modern society has us all surprise averse- living in a state of heightened self awareness, not being able to handle the blows of life if we weren’t given a fight plan before it started. It’s not the action thats the fear, it’s the decision to make the action that creates the fear. The idea of what could happen, or might not happen, of not being able to skew the deck in your favour before the next card is drawn. Decisions are what create fear.
Life is a collection of decisions and a set of alternate realities played out in your imagination, maybe only for a minute, ultimately leading you down a different path. I think we have the capacity to make a decision, to decide actively to conquer a fear, to overcome a barrier, but for it only to be replaced by another. That is the greater fear, especially these days. It’s not about making the first decision, but every decision after that which stops people wanting to make the first one.
At any point, any any time, it could all go wrong. The carefully selected path and the massively contemplated drawn out decision making could have all been for nothing, for you ended up where you started, except left with a feeling of misery and dejection that you made the wrong call. One misstep, one wrong question, one wrong answer, too little too late. Life has become rather nervous, as if everything we want and find meaning in is on tenterhooks, one small crack in the glass and we all shall fall.
So we choose not to do anything. You make the choice not to risk it, don’t turn on the light, avoid the trap. It won’t ever be worth losing it all for, so why waste it, why be miserable for something i can live without? It could all be lost, in an instant. Snap your fingers and everything can change, gone now and never the same- the lovely dark or illuminated for all the world to see the darkest parts of you.
Comfort reigns supreme in the lovely dark, where the most familiar parts of the Palace of Darkness become…home. Misery, curiosity, pain, confusion. I think a lot of people feel that way, i know i do a lot. At the same time though i don’t think people want to feel this way- but the alternative of unknowns, of not knowing what is around the corner, from predictability to eye swivelling confusion.
Life this way is safe. It’s predictable. It follows the same patterns and creates the same patterns and all is well in a world that just doesn’t matter. Not good, not bad, just is.
And i guess thats just it. Just is.
The dark, as powerfully alluring as it is- will make for a mere existence. A safe one sure, from pain, from misery, from loneliness. When you feel you can’t miss something you never had, a once bitter pill becomes a lot easier to swallow or so it would have you believe.
What are we hiding from? Living predictably, living safely..through a fear of not being good enough. It’s partly about not handling success and making a hash of it, but also about considering it an impossibility you deserve a shot at happiness, at some form of joy, a time living truly in the light. Living that life, and not being able to reach the standards you expect ultimately of yourself is what drives us to the lovely dark.
I have found a level of comfort in the lovely dark, the safe place, away from where it could all go wrong. Yet this step into the light, even just dipping a toe into the warmth of the orange glow can be what drives you deeper into the dark. Illuminating you, for all the world to see. All the pain, all the scars, all the confusion.
The cycle is and feels…endless. Yet the definition of madness is to do the same thing over and over and expect the same result. So what does one do, to find a path into the light?
It’s not a case of simply not giving yourself a choice but to be exposed. Given a choice, between the light and the dark- i know the lovely dark would be somewhere I’d be at home. Its about understanding the need to get out of your own way and that everything you are and that everything you do is a process.
A process in which I will make errors, where you may even fuck it up completely. The standards at which you hold yourself too, this overwhelming need for perfection is what keeps you from even coming close. Perfection is an impossibility when it comes to achieving any sort of goal, but getting on the path towards it is the first step to the beginning of everything.
The idea of it all going well at the same time is nothing more than that- an idea. I’m not saying step out into the sun, i know how difficult that even sounds, let alone to do. Start the process. Take a decision that would keep you in the lovely dark on a normal day.
Do the thing you don’t dare try. Have the thought you wish so hard to keep locked away. You’re still safe, just one step away from the dark.
Make one choice. Flick the switch, turn on the light.
One step will naturally lead to another, then another and another. Worry not about the plan, about the next ten moves. Prepare for the one right in front of you. What comes next will flow from you like a beer flows from the tap on a warm summer evening.
Then maybe, just maybe, we won’t even realise we left the light switched on.
Love, as always.