Dancing Despite the Dark

With so much darkness in the world, it almost seems counter-intuitive to make and share creative things, whether dark or light. But I’m getting to be old enough to understand that this is precisely the point. The darkness hates creativity, light, and humor; “The Devil cannot bear to be mocked” and the demons in the Seventh Circle absolutely LOATHE the sound of laughter.

I think this is why Corrie Ten Boom wrote so powerfully of the power of humor in the Nazi concentration camps (of which she was a survivor). In some strange, dualist simplification, it feels that the game and illusion of consciousness operates in the space between dark and light, between kindness and cruelty, and between humor and despair. It is precisely in the moments of greatest darkness and extremis that our sheer cussed determination to generate flickering sparks of light is most needed and useful. There are Manichaean metaphysics beyond my mortal understanding, but it’s true and important, especially now.

I’ve experienced a good bit by now, including many things I hoped and prayed I never would. I know what it is like to lose faith, friends, family, God, savior, purpose, identity, careers, life partners, love, money, possessions, home, and hope. I have survived mental health issues, medication, major depression, and suicide attempts. I am grateful every day to the good people, whether friends and loved ones or blessed strangers, who have helped me along my strange path from survival to thriving. And I have been privileged to pay this kindness forward to countless others.

And through all of these journeys, I’m learning that the first place where we win – or LOSE – to the dark is when we accept its lies, when we submit to its (FALSE) inevitability and invincibility. When we stop sharing laughter and light with ourselves and loved ones, when we allow the dark to rob us of every ounce of light, when we allow the Dementors to *BE* as scary as they would like to be — that is when they begin to win.

That is why we must always accept Professor Lupin’s chocolate – and share it with our friends – so that we have strength to keep fighting and eventually, blessedly, and inevitably to participate in the ineluctable overthrow of all Dementors and Death Eaters as a better world wakes up.

So that’s why it’s important to make things every day, even silly inept attempts at making things. That’s why it’s important to tell jokes to the prisoner in the cell next door. That’s why we make bad puns, and we try to sing, or write bad novels and poetry, or flirt badly, or make silly home movies and have more fun than half the Hollywood directors have ever done.

This is why Stephen King speaks of “A universe of horror and loss surrounding a single lighted stage where mortals dance in defiance of the dark.”1 Because in some magical, mystical way, there is a holy warfare and a deadly, dark defiance in humans who refuse to allow the world and the machinery in its walls to crush our souls or to erase the gleam from our eyes. THAT is scary stuff, THAT is “don’t quit” stuff, and THAT is the sort of power and force that marches steadily to victory to the dance of the music of time.

And I think the Dark knows it.


1 Stephen King, “11/22/63.” I have the quote in one of my volumes of my Quotes Journal, but I could not find it in time, and so Goodreads helped me to get the wording just right.

Source Image (c) Kristina Kokhanova, Used under license (123RF.com)
[Edited with Adobe PS Pro 2020]

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