Darkness gets a bad shake.
Over the centuries a negative quality has been ascribed to dark or darkness. It probably grows from the fact that many times bad things happen in the dark when the world sleeps for the most part, thereby removing a large quantity of spectators. It is safer to commit a bad thing in the dark, where one’s identity is less distinct and the world appears to be less safe.
It has even led to the word dark becoming an adjective which carries the connotation of evil or creepy. A piece of music, a painting, or even a written piece (including poetry) can be said to be dark. It means that there is something frightening, or morbid about it. A lot of Edgar Allan Poe’s stories are depicted as “dark” because he dares to step into realms which are mysterious, violent or bloody. Much of hard rock music is known to be dark because of its discordant sound or violent lyrics.
But, in its basic meaning, darkness is simply the relative lack of light. There is no quality to it apart from its measurement of light. In many ways, darkness can be beautiful and fulfilling.
- A darkened bedroom prevents one from being distracted or awakened by the presence of light.
- On a starry or meteoric night the darkness is an asset which assists in studying the heavens.
- The wall of darkness surrounding a campfire lends itself to intimacy and warmth.
- There is a peacefulness in a darkened, rural area where sounds seem muffled or absent.
It is amazing to be driving in a rural area and to stop, turn off the headlights of the car, and be absorbed by the seemingly, absolute darkness of the night. The only illumination may be the moon or the stars. There is a peacefulness which cannot be found in the highly urban, over-illuminated cities.
At this time of the year a family may extinguish all of the lights in the house except the fireplace or the Christmas tree and relish the beauty of a darkened environment. It carries a nearly spiritual quality to it. A small inn with limited lighting and a blazing fireplace is the perfect romantic setting for a well-prepared dinner and a bottle of wine. The darkness is not frightening or off-putting. To the contrary, it is embracing and alive. At a cottage on a lake, it is breathtaking to sit in a rocker on the porch and listen to the sounds of the night.
There is no question that there are qualities of darkness that can be frightening, such as when a storm knocks out a whole city’s lighting and confusion erupts. But, like anything else, darkness can carry a variety of qualities…not only fear and trepidation.
Image Credit: shadows in the dark