There’s raw quality to night-time that I find both equally compelling and fearful. As a child it was the time that followed “bedtime”. Alone, in bed, I felt safe and surrounded by a family who loved me. And then gradually, somewhere during that night-time, a sliver of solitude formed. An internal night-time – my darkness – an absence of light.
It didn’t happen overnight. It grew over time as I developed into an introvert. A loner. A writer. For in my night-time, that seed of finding places for my mind to go was born. Places other than where I was. Places that were “Once upon a time…”
I didn’t formally recognize it until the first time I saw Phantom of the Opera and heard Music of the Night. The Phantom's voice, deep and rhythmic pulled me along with Christine into his darkness, one that I found unnervingly familiar. He implored us to understand what happens when we look inside ourselves. "Night-time sharpens, heightens each sensation…Darkness stirs and wakes imagination…" My eyes closed and I involuntarily leaned towards the stage. "Silently the senses abandon their defenses…" I felt confused, vulnerable, inexplicably wanted more.
Abandoning our defenses is not something easily done. Self-preservation is an inherent trait that we practice every day whether we realize it or not. I, like Christine, often turn from what I feel or what I find myself drawn to. One of my greatest fears and the root of my insecurity is how others perceive me.
In my darkness dwells my reality and a writer. In my mind and my heart, are stories I long to share, both fictitious and of my life. Human nature and the depths it can sink to as well as the heights it can achieve. To explore my own darkness would be to share them.
Then the questions start. What if no one understands what I write? Where it comes from? Therein lies the fear. The fear that each word represents a piece of me for anyone to see. It's a steady battle between the need to express myself and being vulnerable to people's judgments toward me and what I write once my thoughts, emotions, perceptions, and yes, even my prejudices, are revealed.
Christine sang of being torn between her fear and her unwilling draw toward the Phantom, "But his voice filled my spirit with a strange, sweet sound…In that night there was music in my mind…And through music my soul began to soar! And I heard as I'd never heard before…" Had she not entered the darkness, she would not have soared. Her musical talent undiscovered. Her capacity to love a man like the Phantom never realized. She needed to be willing to expose herself to the night-time. To trust. To share.
How great, I realized the rewards can be by taking such a risk. I realized as I struggled with that feeling of wanting more, that it was the desire to free my words from my self imposed darkness.
And I have made progress. I’ve taken risks. I’ve written a few pieces. I’ve shared some of what I’ve written. I’m working toward doing as the Phantom’s instructed: "Close your eyes; let your spirit start to soar! And you'll live as you've never lived before…"
So I go, armed to my nighttime – my absence of light. To write myself out of the darkness.