Fear of the Dark

The other day saw me grabbing the camera and heading to Lack Hancock at Circle B around five o’clock in the morning.

I think I arrived between 5:30 and 5:45 so sunrise was still quite a distance away from happening. The plan was to make it down to the pier that extends into Lake Hancock before twilight and hang out there until Mother Nature began to do her thing with the horizon.

It involved a long walk from the car to the lake in darkness and while the almost-full moon was bright in the sky and lit up much of my path, whenever I went under the trees, I was very much reliant on the small flashlight I had brought with me.

Interestingly the strength of the moonlight was to cast long shadows beneath the live oak trees that are very thick along the path and these shadows appeared to move with each step I took.

This particular trail lived up to its name (Shady Oak Trail) and just for the experience, there were several times I turned off the flashlight altogether and experienced the feeling of stepping forward in total darkness.

If you haven’t done that, give it a try. It really challenges your belief in yourself and your surroundings.

I remember a million years ago just inside the door to his office, my boss had one of those motivational posters that read “When you take a step into a room that is totally dark, you believe one of two things. Either the floor will be there to greet your step or you will learn to fly.” Forty years later I still remember that sentiment and it has been a guiding thought for me in many an instance of stepping into the unknown.

In this case, the steps I took were along a trail I had taken many times in the daylight so it hardly qualified as being “unknown” but the tall grasses, bushes, and trees either side of the trail provided a haven for many a wild creature and in this darkness certainly did qualify as being unknown.

In all honesty, I had no fear of this unknown, though, and was more into the freedom of taking unknown steps in the darkness. It was a really invigorating feeling and heightened my senses with each step.

There was only one brief moment where I questioned the sanity of what I was doing, when I took a step that was greeted by a growl and for a split second, I was startled. Until I realized that it was my stomach that growled.

I had to laugh at myself and my instant reaction to something so silly.

By the time I reached the lake, the vaguest hint of colors began to light the horizon and a single flat cloud seemed to hang there in order to prevent a clear-sky dawn.

I took a number of pics and they are at the end of the blog, including one where a broken log took on the silhouette of an arm pointing out the cloud in case I missed it.

It was a lovely morning and I hope you enjoy the pics.

It was driving home that I began to think about the aspect of darkness that brings fear with it.

There is nothing sinister in darkness per se yet most horror stories take place in it.

So, whey do we allow the darkness to be maligned so, when we know the same world exists in both light and darkness.

Some will argue that nocturnal creatures are more scary but I dismiss that as there are more predators that hunt in daylight than in darkness.

This means that the only real reason is that we can’t see anything and that our fear of the unknown is greater than our knowledge of what is and what isn’t.

Things that are known work in harmony with our brain to create a “safe” and comforting description of our world. We are very much creatures of habit and look to repeat things that we know to be be “good” and avoid things we deem to be “bad”.

But something that is unknown cannot be defined as good or bad because we simply don’t know it (yet).

So it isn’t our belief that the unknown is bad. It is simply that it is unknown.

And yet, tackling the unknown and unlocking its secrets is the single-most key ingredient to growing ourselves on life’s journey. It is through this experience and the wisdom that comes with each piece of new knowledge that we acquire that makes us a better and wiser human being.

But some people would choose to stay living in their mother’s womb, if they could. Gestation is not a life. It is simply an existence. Life doesn’t begin at conception and avoiding the unknown from your first breath to your last isn’t life either.

When we choose to live, we choose not to exist. People who live, create memories within themselves and others that justifies their having been born in the first place.

People who exist, miss out on all the wonder that life’s journey has to offer.

Yes; some of this journey will bring bad things our way but hopefully we will be rewarded with good things that outweigh the bad.

Therein lies the reason for taking each step forward in life.

We believe that each step will bring a reward and even when it doesn’t, the next one might.

Give it a try!

… just a thought.