|Lights in the kitchen, on a cold, dark night|
Last week, I played around with the concept of the fear of heights. This time around, I'm considering fear of the dark. This isn't a phobia that I personally have, but I do have empathy with it. After all, who likes fumbling around in shadows, attempting to get somewhere or do something that requires precision? With a few exceptions, everything that we would like to do is probably done better in the light.
Darkness transforms familiar locations into dangerous unknown realms. Take the simple walk across a familiar room. With normal lighting, it is such a quotidian task that we don't even spend a moment thinking about it. In the dark, stepping on something discarded upon the floor or banging a foot against a newly moved piece of furniture are commonplace missteps. (Yes, I have sympathy for the parents of young and energetic children.)
But beyond the hazards of toys and tables, there is the insidious play of the imagination. Our minds detest a void. When a strange sound comes to us through the darkness, there is an irresistible impulse to visualize how it was made. Was a creak the result of an intruder's footstep upon the stairs? Was that rustling a monstrous vermin? Was that moan something more than the wind? In the brightness of day, a glance towards the source of the bothersome noise sets our minds to peace. But, in a murk of night, the source is unconfirmed, unresolved, and our imaginations may provide disquieting images to match the sound.
|Darkness falls, transforming the familiar to the foreign|
So, it makes sense that this is one of the oldest and most enduring of human phobias. Heck, if some prehistoric beast preyed upon my little community of hunter-gathers, I'd also be freakin' terrified of the deadly dark. Next to the fire, keeping it well fed and bright, that's where I'd be to hold the nighttime horrors at bay.
Anyways, I have plenty of fears, but I'm really happy that the darkness is not one of them.
And I can also appreciate the safe thrill of a spooky tale told in the dark, whether around a campfire or a candle or just with a flashlight held up under the chin. ;-)
Let's listen to some music.
"Lullaby" by the Cure
"Darkness" by Peter Gabriel
"Fear No Darkness, Promised Child" by Timo Räisänen