by S.E. Luna
I love the night but I am afraid of the dark
|I love the night. A time of retreat and rest after a long days work. A time of relaxation, comfort and time spent with family and friends. A time filled with peace, solitude and security. A time that is all mine to hoard or share as I wish. That time between dusk and dawn, when on clear nights the moon and stars shimmer overhead producing just enough light to let me see the world around me and know nothing is lurking in the shadows, waiting for me. Oh yes, I love the night, but I am afraid the dark.
Darkness. That untouchable thing that obscures all and takes on a life of its own when the sun goes down. That’s the time when things go bump in the night. When hooting owls and baying wolves coax us into a frenetic dance demanding identification of the sudden sound; the creak of the floorboards, the clang of the pipes, the clicking nails of tiny feet. The trumpets that herald the fear we deny.
My intelligence tells me this fear is unfounded, but the thump thump thump of my quickening pulse and the whistle of my shallow breathing tells me that my instinctual survival skills are kicking in. The hairs on my body stand at attention, my nostrils flare, and with my eyes wide open I can’t see anything. My fears multiply exponentially. Yes, intellectually I know that my fear is groundless. But my intellect is not in control here. The darkness is. I am at the mercy of the unseen thing that stalked my ancestors. I know it is there.
The dark has always been filled with terrors; things that could end our existence. This fear, this dread of things unseen, is surely a type of cellular memory passed down from generation to generation. Children still manifest the fear of the thing in the closet or under the bed. Nobody ever has to tell them about the bogeyman. They just know he’s there and I do, too.
My forefathers found solace and security in the glow of the fire. It kept the darkness at bay and the fear submerged. They knew that outside the light they were prey for the unseen predator. They knew it and so do I.
I am a child of science, and born after the industrial revolution. I have been taught that fear of the dark is fear of things I can’t control. I have been taught to subjugate my fear of the dark by artificially banishing the night. My modern cave is filled with numerous lighting devices-candles, oil lamps, flashlights, phosphorescent, florescent and incandescent electric light—all used to combat the dark. There is light all round, inside and out. There are lights on every street. The city glows with reflected light. There is no darkness. It is almost as bright as day. The illusion is complete. I now have nothing to fear except a power failure.