No need to be afraid of the dark – it helps bring out details we often totally overlook
Photo credit: Ralf Weiser, sunlight hitting a sculpture in Philly theater
(With a really cool kid and adult activity link below)
Today I am going to take you out there – way out there. How can darkness be a good thing? It is not normally connected with beautiful things and thoughts. Darkness may instill fear of the unknown in us. Being home alone in a dark house during a power outage can be indeed quite an experience. How about going through dark alleys in the city? Halloween makes a fortune based on darkness. Yet, darkness is also something that can be very enlightening and beautiful – it invites us to ponder and wonder.
Take for instance the moon. Only when it comes out during darkness can you really see the moon well. It mirrors the sun and only on one side. The other side is almost constantly engulfed in darkness; we at least, only ever see the same side as it never rotates.
A more impressive phenomenon is when you are quietly hanging out sitting on a park bench, or lying on the grass in the pitch black dark you are at a stage of heightened awareness. Did you ever notice hear all the strange noises you hear when you cannot see? Impressive, huh?
Not too long ago I went to the University of Pennsylvania with our kids to participate in a really cool sleep over at their history museum in Philadelpia. The program is called “40 Winks with the Sphinx” (check out program and dates here). You go on an expedition and at times you can go the roof and even take a look into space using a really old telescope. The “expedition” part, among other things, includes one part in which the museums lights are turned off completely in all exhibitions. Voila, you are now part of many exhibitions that have been transferred from many distant places and are rich with historic values.
I cannot rave enough about this experience as you get to see a completely different view of artifacts like only the folks who used to roam around them used to see. They never had 24/7 neon lighting illuminate the exhibits. Guests only have the flashlights they bring along for the stay. It was and is amazing how much depth and details you can see when you do not have the main lights drown all of it out. The visitor gets a completely different view and thus also a different experience altogether. How about walking and sleeping right next to ancient mummies and other artifacts? They have not seen any of their native humans interact there in perhaps centuries.
Sometimes a seemingly bad thing is leading to the path of something so much more beautiful than we expect. How do you experience this? The recipe for this is really easy: Take a mental break and start notice what is happening around you. Take an interest in others, look for opportunities to make them shine, be approachable, be free of fear, cynicism, and judgment. Then you need not be afraid of darkness how- and wherever you may encounter it.