Not the kind of scared where you check the closet twice for monsters and make a flying leap onto your bed so the girl from The Sixth Sense does not reach out from underneath to grab your legs.
Not the kind of scared you feel on the drive to your boyfriend’s house after hearing the dreaded words “we need to talk” escape his perfectly sculpted lips.
Not even the scared you feel when darkness envelops you and you cannot see anything more than the nothingness that looms as you desperately pray that someone will turn on the light.
None of those things scare me anymore. In fact, those ‘bad fears’ seem almost nonexistent in my mind as this new fear takes over.
Right now it is not the darkness that has me frightened.
For the first time, I am scared of the light.
I think we live a lot of our lives basking within our darkness. We pity ourselves and our situations, spend our tea parties comparing scars, and do not even bother checking the closet for monsters anymore because we know that the scariest monsters of all live within our minds.
We tell ourselves that this is normal, surround ourselves with people that enjoy feeding these negative thoughts, and live our lives in search of a happiness — a light, if you will, that we do not realize already lives within us.
A new friend of mine used the analogy given by the Zen master Po-Chang when asked about seeking for the Buddha Nature…“It’s much like riding an ox in search of the ox.”
We do not realize that our means for getting there is actually our destiny. We live our lives in search of a destination that will never be reached because we are already there.
It just takes stepping out of your comfort zone and changing your perspective to see it.
Well, for the first time, I see it.
And to be completely honest, it scares the living daylights out of me (no pun intended).
This light that lives inside me has been subdued for so long that I honestly feel as though I have a million rows of humming fluorescent lights that are just being turned on for the first time.
Remember in gym class when the teacher would turn the lights on? At first you thought you could see, and then you could really see, and just when you thought all the lights had kicked in, a whole new row lit up and you almost wondered how you managed to see the world with only one row of lights.
That is how I feel. I feel like I got so comfortable living in my darkness that every time a row of lights would come on I would immediately shut them off because the unchartered territory that surrounded me was overwhelming and almost too much to handle.
Then one day, a row of lights came on and I allowed myself to pause for a minute and take it all in. I looked around at the world surrounding me and almost felt silly for keeping myself locked up in this safe little box – the world was so beautiful.
Rather than dive under my covers and squeeze my eyelids together until the light went away, I walked towards it. I allowed myself to feel the heat, I stared right at the source until I could not stare any longer, and I felt an electric current pulsating through my body that nothing else had ever compared to.
In that moment, all I saw was light.
It is amazing how your perspective can really change a situation. We all hear about the glass being half empty or full, but what about a room full of darkness? If you turn on a light in a pitch-black room, what do you see?
A room full of darkness containing a tiny light, or a tiny light shining so bright that it can break an entire room full of darkness?
Whether the glass is half empty or half full does not really matter because most of the time you quickly consume the remains in the glass and you are left feeling empty regardless of how you started.
The funny thing about darkness, however, is that our eyes eventually adjust. The more you run from your light, the darker your darkness becomes. But if you invite it to stay a while, take a step back and take it all in, maybe even invite it to sit down for a cup of coffee, you will realize that your darkness does not stand a chance.
The longer you are surrounded by your light, no matter how tiny it may be, the darkness starts to fade away and your eyes begin to adjust to all of the beauty that you finally have the chance to see.
This all sounds wonderful, and believe me — it is, so what is it that I am so afraid of?
I am afraid because I honestly feel like my light is never-ending. The minute I think that I have reached my maximum voltage, a whole new row of lights flips on and I see details within the fabric of my heart that I did not know existed.
I am scared because this light has helped me see myself for who I am, rather than lurking in the shadows and finding comfort in going unnoticed.
This light is electrifying and exhilarating, and fills your lungs with life while simultaneously taking your breath away.
I am scared because I can no longer hide in my darkness.
There is so much light surrounding me that no matter how hard I try to let the darkness take over, my light remains. This enveloping light causes an undeniable awareness of the world around me — the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful. It becomes a constant battle between yearning to shield my eyes and desperately wanting to see more.
It is so unusual and new and exciting and terrifying.
Even though I love this light, I do not want to lose my darkness. It was by spending so much time being surrounded by cold empty blackness that I found genuine appreciation for even the tiniest sliver of light. It is crazy to think that chasing my light only made me learn to appreciate my darkness even more.
It was in my darkest times that I created some of the most vulnerable glimpses into my soul. Raw, exposed, broken. I re-read some of these pieces today and cling to my own words as though I am reading them for the very first time. It is chilling to think that these secrets and demons and monsters are in me.
It is even more chilling to think that I never want them to disappear for good.
Rather than try to shield my light or hide from my darkness, I will welcome all of the forces that surround me and live my life attempting to create an internal force to be reckoned with.
My darkness needs my light just as much as my light needs my darkness. For it is not until you have felt the deepest caves of darkness that you can truly appreciate the glow of a light, and it is not until you see a bright radiant light head-on that you understand just how dark your surroundings used to be.
Use your darkness to help guide you to the light, and, at the same time, allow your light to help you learn to be thankful for your darkness. Without one, the other would not remain.
And what a beautiful combination they create.