Accepting the Darkness

It’s that dreaded time of year when the clocks have been turned back and darkness comes earlier and earlier each day.  Daylight seems to slip away like sand through our fingers.

It’s a tough time of year for a lot of people.  Many people suffer from seasonal affective disorder.  Then there’s all the stress from the holidays.  And of course, there is the anticipation of the inevitably challenging winter weather.

Personally, I find myself dreading the darkness each night because it is a time when sadness and anxiety prey on my consciousness.  To me, the daylight represents hope and courage, and the night is fraught with sadness and despair.  Perhaps this is because nighttime is when we are most vulnerable.  We cannot see what is around us, and even though we sleep protected in the comfort of our homes, from an evolutionary standpoint, it is the time when we are most vulnerable to danger.

Interestingly, my anxiety is usually strongly connected to my growing concern about environmental issues.  I often wake up panicked about overpopulation, unsustainable consumption of resources, and the mother of all concerns: global warming.

I’ve come to realize that the underlying root of all of this is suffering.  It’s unbearable to think of the suffering that humans are inflicting on the vast array of life on this planet, including ourselves.  It makes me so profoundly sad to think about, and even sadder to know that I am a contributing factor (despite my efforts to be as environmentally conscious as possible).

Sometimes in these vulnerable moments, I feel flabbergasted and frustrated that more people aren’t actively concerned about these issues.  Is it because it’s easier not to think about?  I mean, who really wants to think about polar bears drowning or marine life choking to death on plastic?  Or sea levels rising and catastrophic storms wreaking havoc?  Isn’t it much easier to bury our heads in the sand and pretend that it’s not as bad as all that?

I think the real problem lies within our ability to accept these grim challenges – to accept the darkness – but not to lose our way in it.  When nightfall comes, we can turn on all the lights to soothe ourselves, but the fact remains that it’s artificial; it’s still dark outside.  There is no way to deny it, just as there is no way to deny that suffering is a part of life.

I’m really striving to accept these fundamental truths.  Not run from it, and not let it consume me with fear. It’s not easy, but I feel that if I can, I will be more connected to my personal truth and this amazing world that I love so much.

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