We rarely draw the curtains against the night. Even in the winter, when the dark creeps out from the woods so much earlier to dim our eyes and send us running for the long life light bulb switch – even then I hesitate to make that final call, so entrancing is the ‘out there’.
Out there a massive power shift is already playing out. The creatures of the night are waking, alert and ready. Their eyes are not ‘accustomed’ to the dark, they are made for it right from the very beginning; it is their light. The rest of us whose vision is, at best, impaired in darkness, must draw in, draw our curtains, hide from danger, sleep. There is a strong pull of the wild in me as dark descends, a longing to be a part of it, and without a torch. Turning back from the window, having reluctantly closed off the night, I face warmth and safety, some polite crime on television, or a read beside the fire, supper, and I wonder what I’m missing.
Rabbits know fine what they’re missing, ditto hens and rodents. Although the latter do pop out at night, they must needs scurry beneath the dense shelter of undergrowth for the screech owl is about. Even scurryings won’t save them from the neighbouring cats. So, it isn’t darkness we, or they are afraid of, but the creatures who inhabit it. In our case, imagined ones too, demons and lurkers and no-gooders with an eye for weakness. And we are weak in darkness, compromised and slow to focus.
And so, we turn in, pushing the darkness back into the woods and back across the sea, flooding our night with light, and more light, neon and flashing, computer screens, television, digital clocks, standby lights on printers, sound systems, streetlights lighting our hurried steps until we find our own doorway, unlock it and step into our nests, leaving the stars behind. We cook, argue about homework, phone mother, answer emails, bathe and sleep until the light begins to rise again, a slow green at first, then lifting white or blue or pinkly clouded into the full light of day. But maybe we miss something. Maybe that’s what I feel so strongly. The way we divide our days and nights into themselves, stored neatly, controllable, separate, and, yet, they are one.
To stand out inside the darkness, to feel it’s soft mantle about our shoulders, and to stand long enough to see is a wonder. Even without visible stars, even on the blackest of nights, there is still light. We make it. It emanates from our ancient human spirit, this light, and all I have to do is wait until I am fully present. Dashing out with the recycling is not the same. I need to stand, to let the inside worries slip away, to move, without moving, into the wholeness of the dark, to let it become one with me. I become aware of movement, of sounds, of the depth and texture of the dark. My ears hear, my eyes see, my mind empties of everything that lies behind the front door. It is, as if it is another world, one of bustle and of chaos and the quack of televised nonsense, of clatter and youtube, of the ping of an arriving email, of the whirr of a fridge, the hum of a computer, the ticking of a clock. There is no time out here, no hum, no white noise, only the immediate and raw darkness, broken by the rustle of mouse deep in the dry stone wall, a triumphant hoot, a warning cry, the rush of spring water over rocks, the wind through the pines.
No currency exchanges hands out here; no bartering or negotiating required. No clothing, fashion, menus or public transport. No strife over friendships or loyalties, no business sense, no degrees, no difficult mother in laws.
I stand for a while, a part of the darkness. I feel vulnerable and alone and I thrill to those feelings, for this is real life, real dark, real and raw and sharp and edgy. This is Order.
Then I turn back to what the world calls order, with a twinkle in my eye.