Thursday, December 03, 2015

We tell stories in the dark


I took this photo before training last weekend. The trees are mostly bare now, and although the days have been warmer than usual for this time of year, they are still getting shorter.

For many people, the shorter days mean hours spent working in the dark. There is no less to do. Often there is more to do as people prepare for the holiday season and carry the same load as always at work. Students prepare for exams, but they are not the only group to feel that December is stressful. Most of us find that the darkest month of the year is a time for anxiety.

In a time when short, dark days meant less time to work and less work to do, people found hope in focusing on lights. We have the lights of Christmas and Hanukkah as focal points that remind us that darkness is temporary and not as powerful as it seems. And yet, these lights have come to also remind us of long to-do lists and the pressure to celebrate in a way worthy of Facebook likes.

If a focus on the lights we make isn't working for you, take a few moments and appreciate the dark. I didn't look out and see a grey, unpleasant day when I took the picture. I saw what Ireland taught me to call 'a soft day,' a day that seemed to welcome quiet and focus. Beyond the grey, there is dark. And like the darkness at the back of your mind, dark mornings and evenings can provide soil for new thoughts and new hopes. We dream in the dark.

We tell stories in the dark, too. They are not stories of the 'real world' in front of us: they are stories of the worlds we only see when we stop looking at what is right in front of our noses. They are bigger and wider and more dramatic and more full of possibility than the stories we tell in the light.

Perhaps the answer to too much to do in days that are too short is simply to look beyond the day and through the darkness. When you're not distracted by the light, you might find you see much farther.

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