Into darkness

Everyone has talent. What’s rare is the courage to follow it to the dark places where it leads — Erica Jong

I’m drawn to the dark places of a person’s mind. It shows in my choice of reading material and what I view on TV, in the movie theatre or on Netflix. But that doesn’t mean I enjoy blood and gore horror movies. Texas Chainsaw Massacre? Final Destination? No, thanks. Don’t have the stomach for it.

I’d also like to add that my curiosity about the dark places does not mean I am anti-social. Although, I am anti-bullshit. God knows I’ve heard plenty of bullshit.

I suppose a curiosity about the darkness that lies within our hearts hints at a willingness to accept and embrace the darkness. After all, we are capable of running the extreme gamut of emotions in a 24-hour period without thinking twice.

Happy. Annoyed. Worried. Confused. Scared. Pissed off. Homicidal. Inconsolable.

We need to express our range of emotions.

I’ve never understood people who put on a happy face and nothing but. I knew a person back in my university days who was always cheerful and had a smile for everyone. I’ll refer to her as T. She was always kind-hearted. I liked T. Her sunny disposition always made me wonder what was wrong with me. I couldn’t muster up the energy to be sugar-and-spice-and-everything-nice. I figured my brain was wired incorrectly. But that all changed one day.

I can’t remember exactly what the conversation was about but I remember being honest and a touch dour. I made some sort of remark and T looked at me and said “I wish I didn’t have to be cheerful all the time. I wish I could be more like you.”

Seriously, she was sincere about it. No snark. No sarcasm. I was surprised by that admission of truth about the face (or mask) she presented to the world everyday. It was a moment where she let her guard down and allowed me to hear her. I never got a chance to respond to her statement. We had different classes to get to and it never came up again.

We never maintained contact after university. Different goals, different paths. But I do wonder whether or not she has allowed herself to not mask her emotions. To allow and embrace emotions that she had been suppressing. To be more comfortable in her own skin. If you’re comfortable in your own skin, then the ability to be truly, authentically happy and content with what life presents you will easily be within reach.

My willingness to explore the darkness that is part of my heart has led me to interesting artistic, creative and personal choices. I’ve allowed the darkness to inhabit my consciousness for most of my adult life. It’s only now that I want to really dive into that darkness and let it creatively express itself through words and images.

I’ve never believed in fairy tale happy endings. Those kinds of happy endings are pure illusion and not applicable to the real world. They’re worse than rose-coloured gasses.

So it makes sense that my fiction writing will reflect some of that sensibility. I want to see the dark places that inhabit my characters’ hearts. I want to see where they are going. I want to see if they can embrace the darkness. I want to see if they will survive.