Underground, I am tunneling. I have a torch that casts light along the walls. I can see approximately seven metres ahead of me and seven metres behind. That’s a total of 14 metres.
My world is a total of 14 metres, in hind and foresight. It doesn’t feel like enough, I want to see more, but there really is no other option. I work with what I am given.
A steady thrumming heartbeat fills my ears as the dark and uncanny appearance of shadows plays tricks on my eyes.
I was born with the moon in my eyes. A bright and steady gaze, fixed upon me like a button. Infused into my skin, the light inherent. But over time, as I grew to know the sun, I forgot about the moon. I forgot about the light within the dark. I came to only accept the sun, blocking out any darkness with blinding luminance and a refusal to be brave. Plastered smiles, fear burying deep and cavernous.
Did it carry me forward? This idea of forced optimism?
It gave me hope. Hope that there would always be more. That enough was never enough. But it gave me anxiety. Any sight of impending clouds on the horizon were overwhelming. They didn’t fit in with this vision of a perfect blue sky.
I became constrained there, in that perfection. Hands balled tight into fists, I clung hard to my now forfeited ideal.
Perfection is like death.
I finally cracked. One day, around dawn, part way through light and dark.
My eyes had hardly adjusted to the light, but I saw what was there. I looked away, believing that if I did I could somehow return to yesterday. I didn’t want to deal with what this story was telling me. I didn’t like what I had seen there on that impending hill that day, and I didn’t like who I had seen, the me that I was at the time.
I pushed this realization as far away from me as possible. I was no where near the sunny, perfect ideal I thought I should be and I grew afraid. I argued that couldn’t face who I was.
‘But,’ seemingly said my life, ‘you have to. If you don’t look at you, no one else will. If you don’t do it for you, no one else will.‘
Something suggested I had better listen, so carefully, I started picking through the accumulated heaps of a familiar sadness. Turning inwards, I became a friend with sadness. (Even to this day, when it returns I like to say, “Oh you again.”)
It took a while for me to get comfortable with my darkness. To take ownership and accountability for the part I played in it. My darkness, like the night, seems to disappear when I turn on the big city lights.
At first, I felt I needed those lights on all the time. The idea of sitting with any sort of sadness or darkness seemed more than I could handle. It took a while to find a comfortable seat, but one day a huge life crisis caused a massive power outage that plunged my whole inner city into darkness. I had no choice but to sit with myself there and then in that darkness. I had to deal with my own gaze and it made me uncomfortable.
Looking inside, at my own darkness made me squirm—ew yuck. But I had no choice, I had to look. Sometimes certain situations have a way of thrusting you into the unknown. I’m grateful for them, because in this instance when I did stop to look, I saw the intense network of brilliant stars shining within. I saw the moon. I saw the light that had been there all along.
Something nudged me that day, back in 2004, towards beginning my journey towards the center of my heart.
And here I am, still tunneling inwards, closer to my heart. Closer still, to my breath.
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Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photo: Travis North