Grey Clouds & Dark Places

It was a cloudy morning. I knew it before I left as the weather app just said “Cloudy” for Lakeland. As I stepped out on the driveway and looked up, the skies confirmed the prognosis.

But my morning kitty-jobs were done, so undeterred I grabbed my coffee, sat in the car and headed off to Lake Parker. I brought the 11 mm lens with me, given that there wasn’t going to be anything visually wonderful to watch, I might as well make it dramatic.

But truth is, dramatic nothing is still nothing. It is one of those wonderful math memories from when I was a child … any number times nothing is still nothing.

Makes me wonderful though about the whole infinity thing, where anything times infinity is still infinity. So what happens if we multiply infinity times nothing? Perhaps the answer is 1. The origin number.

Which, if true then the origin is something that came about in the midst of nothing, when an infinite amount of time had past.

OK, that’s my equivalent to the big bang theory … but let’s get back to my Lake Parker trip.

So, there I was at Lake Parker, staring off into a cloudy nothing in the darkness, slowly sipping my first cup of coffee for the day.

My mood was mellow. Maybe even a bit melancholy, so the scene suited it perfectly.

I had lost my verve and a rich colorful dawn would have felt out of place in my soul.

A solitary heron walked slowly across in front of me. He got so close I could almost have reached out and touched him. But instead, I just spoke softly to him and wished him well on his day ahead.

I’ve included a few shots of the scene at the end of the blog (including my little heron friend). Hope you enjoy.

As I drove home, the darkness of my mood held and I realized that the older I get, the more dark places I seem to find.

Perhaps it is that I am closer to death but in truth it is not that I fear death. It is just that I know more about life. And darkness abounds, everywhere.

Age brings wisdom and with wisdom comes the evaporation of the original fairy tale. This is the fairy tale we give to our children, where each story ends with “and they lived happily ever after”.

When the fairy mist has gone and we can see clearly, we see life unabashed with all its wrinkles. The unfairness. The tragedy. The sadness.

The darkness.

Life happens by chance. We don’t choose to get born and generally we don’t choose when we die. Nor do we choose the circumstance we are born into. Why does one life begin with a baby being born into abject poverty while another baby is born into unspeakable wealth? Why is one baby born to loving parents and the other born into abuse? Why is one baby born into a body that is healthy and lasts a hundred years, while another is born into a body that only lasts days?

Though we don’t like to admit it, life for most of us is generally a bad experience peppered with good moments.

This is why it is important to grab onto and cherish each good moment when it happens. Each is a little treasure that adds value to our life. If all moments were good, what would another good moment mean?

In broad daylight, what value does the light of a single candle have?

Yet in a dark room, a single candle can cast enough light to help us navigate from one side to another.

Regardless of life’s circumstance, as living creatures we are pre-programmed to do everything we can to stay alive. Rich or poor, our final breath is just as important to each and we fight for it with all our might.

No one’s life feels trivial to them just because of the circumstance. The rest of the world might view their lives as trivial but their drive to breathe is just as strong as the “most important” king.

There is a tiny few along the journey who experience what we call despair and it allows them to bow out. They take their own life or they just stop fighting.

To them despair is the final acceptance of darkness. That life is actually not worth living any further.

Most religions revile the notion of despair and in the Catholic Church for example it is the one sin that cannot be forgiven.

Imagine that!

Those were not my words … the one sin that cannot be forgiven.

Even the seven deadly sins can be forgiven (pride, anger, lust, sloth, avarice, gluttony, and envy). All seven can be forgiven and the path to heaven assured with such forgiveness.

But despair and you cannot be even buried on hallow ground. Commit suicide and your soul is fucked for eternity.

Can you imagine how absurd that notion is when held by so many believers and suffered by the few who give up the fight?

Just because someone has fallen into total darkness and realizes there is no way out … we heap loathing and rebuke on their act of despair.

And it isn’t just their final act of choosing to end their life. Because if it was that, then we could have no martyrs and heroes that willingly gave their lives for whatever the cause. Those who climbed out of the trenches and attacked machine gun emplacements to certain death … they would all be vilified as such.

No, it is the state of mental acceptance that we revile so much. That someone could give up hope. How dare they!

So what if they are writhing in a chronic pain of cancer … let them die naturally. So what if their loves have been lost and their life has lost all further meaning… let them live it out until the angels come to take them away.

We have all bought into the age-old concept of “where there is life, there is hope”.

And while that may turn out to be valid for many, it is not always true for everyone.

Darkness exists in all our lives. It can be periodic or it can be sustained. In some cases it can even be perpetual.

Those who have experienced happiness and the light associated with it, are the first to experience the worst aspect of darkness.

As we step out of a bright sunshine into a dark room, there is a moment of blindness as we struggle to see. In most cases, we eventually see something because our eyes respond to the low-light and find enough detail to help us see what we need to.

But what if there is nothing to see? If there is total absence of light?

At what stage do we stop squinting and realize that sometimes there is just nothing to see?

As I said, life is very much by chance and we each take our own journey through it. If your journey is at times wonderful then embrace the wonder and cherish those moments.

If your life is not wonderful and darkness abounds, then that is OK too. Many of us are in that same dark room, regardless of the fact that you can’t see us.

You see, that’s the thing about darkness … it can only blind our ability to see, but it can’t take away our knowledge that we are not alone.

… just a thought