I took an evening walk in the park across from my apartment complex last night and as I strolled in the dark remembered a "science fiction" story I read when I was young. It was a story that I didn't quite get. Oh, I enjoyed it as a modern reading of Vampires and other Creatures of the Night story, but the plot twist didn't impress me completely for some reason. In this story it seems Dracula had come alive in a distant future where children, nor anyone else, were afraid of the dark! There were no street lights in neighborhoods, and children played into the night. Dracula, and the other scary creatures that showed up in this darkness thought this was a perfect environment for them, and yet, they had no traction with the children, no "scare cred!" They were just people who were different, and no fear could be found in these kids, which threw Dracula's game right off... had to re-think his whole schtick! So he and Franky (you know who) eventually just gave in and they all played together until the kids had to go home. At least that's how I remembered the ending.
Why wasn't I so impressed with the story? Well, it struck me as I walked in the dark... I grew up on a farm where artificial light was not the norm at night just like those kids! I understood how they felt from an experiential standpoint. Nighttime, or darkness, did not scare me so much. At the very least I had to deal with night as a part of everyday life so it was not a wonder, but a fact I could understand. I did know about those “forces of darkness" the children were seeming ignorant of as I knew those stories as they had not, and so I did marvel at the twist of fate this "monster" narrative presented.
So as I walked in the darkness last evening, I wondered how many people might not be able to do so. Might not be able to savor its emptiness that invites speculation, as a place to play, but as shadowy invitations filled with an apprehension or fear that they grew up with, or create themselves.
A story like this leads me to think that as we mature, we need to be stepping into our shadows, our places of fear and darkness, and deal with them as their owners and creators. When we recognize a place of fear inside of us, of people, places and ideas of difference, let it be an invitation of discovery, hopefully to find that if we do not give that place in us the power hurt, it has none of its own. You may want to invite a friend or counselor in this play, because shadows have meaning, and playing in the darkness becomes part of our discovery of self as we exercise and stretch who we might be. And eventually we'll go home, and the creatures of the night will wander off, puzzled and changed also, maybe to return as a friend.
Just a thought to share on a dark night.