The Equinox has passed. Summer, that great celebration of sunshine and play, is officially over, and we are heading into the annual loss of daylight and the onset of literal darkness—if we can receive the gift.
With the ubiquitous use of artificial lighting, human experience of the natural cycles of Sun, Earth and light is obscured. We’ve grown in technological prowess to a point where we can hide darkness with the touch of a switch, the press of a key, or a swipe on a phone. With one finger, we literally flip off darkness.
We alter our environment in a way that was once solely the domain of the Sun, the Moon and Fire. We’ve taken the power of the sky and made it our own, bending it to our will. What other animal does that? Are we gods?
Without even the words: “Let there be light,” it is done. We can even program it automatically. Once the timer is set, we take our hands off, a further disconnection. We “let there be light” at any hour, in any moment and in any amount or duration, customizing daylight to meet each individual desire.
Seldom do we create more darkness. No. Let there be more light. Until the beauty of diving into the dark, with its mystery, awe, softening of perception and the dances that only happen with the magic that lives there are all but lost, along with the beauty and vulnerability that occur when the eyes are helpless and the footfall must find its way by feeling, remembering, trusting, one toe at a time, treading the ground with life-or-death care.
This is the way I want to walk. With enough practice this foot-listening-to-the-ground walking becomes more real than walking by eyes alone. My senses fine tune and whole-body listening takes its place in the tool belt of survival skills. Like making love, I learn the terrain of each situation through my fingertips, lips and belly and sense danger through the raising of hair on the back of my neck.
Sometimes we walk this way no matter what the level of photons. Sometimes light is not enough. Sometimes it is too much.
It is morning. My windows are open to the cool marine layer, but I am inside pacing. Bedroom to living room to writing desk to kitchen and back again, in nonsensical circles.
“What am I doing?… What am I supposed to be doing?… What can I do?” Do I write my column, roll out clay, do my numbers, swim, eat… ? I begin one activity, move to the next, then back again. For the life of me, I cannot be still.
I had taken my iPhone out of “airplane” mode and within minutes received four pieces of “news”: a text from a friend running late because of a school shooting in Van Nuys; a Facebook video from my attorney of a woman my age who’d been stalked by three men in a parking lot, a warning against local human trafficking; a text from my son saying he’d been bitten by a dog; and an Instagram video of my daughter flying a plane. Since when does she even like planes?
I have nowhere to file the onslaught of feelings and fear arising from these little dots of light. All at once, global and personal issues become my uninvited guests. So I pace, solid, strong, like an animal, each step moving toward the way out. But… where is the door? Where is the trail? What can I hunt? Nowhere. And nothing. I am a Cat in a cage.
Here is what troubles me most: Each piece of news came electronically, in what I consider a bastardization of light. No human voice to listen to with eyes closed. No ear to receive my response. No arms to fall into. No heartbeat to calm mine. This is a systemic problem. Disconnection has become commonplace. A text replaces a hug. An email replaces a card. A Facebook video replaces a call of concern. Have we all become so desensitized that symbols on a screen take the place of real contact? Does what we see eclipse our need and our ability to feel?
Plus, when information is shared electronically, there is no filter, no way to know which one holds a trigger. Sure, some are easily recognizable by their sender or the subject field. But all of the ones I mentioned came from people who care about me, and still, I walked into a mine field.
I long for simplicity, childhood innocence. I long to land. So I walk in the dark.
People question my walking at night—no flashlights please. They tell me I am courageous or foolish. I tell them I don’t need to see the land. I can feel Her. The trees are right where I left them. If I bump into one, it is on me, not him. There is no treachery in the natural world. I don’t believe there is treachery in human nature either. There is simply an inability to cope naturally with the constant trauma that has become the norm.
That morning, I need a live voice. I go through my mental list of possibilities alongside a self-judging soundtrack:
“Come on, Sage. Handle this yourself. I know… why don’t you meditate?” Right. I tell the judge to meditate, then send a text.
“Got a moment?”
My middle school BFF replies: “Hold on.” She then leaves work, calls and talks me down. While on the phone, I use the pent-up energy to roll four large balls of clay for my next studio visit. Clay is earth.
When we get off the phone, I call my son, my daughter and the friend who’d texted. My son is okay, the bite not severe. My daughter is on her way to NY (as a passenger) and she’ll check upon her return. My “shooting” friend picks up the phone, and I lay it out.
“I cannot hear that stuff via text.” She laughs. I repeat myself.
“I cannot hear scary things via text. Or email. Ever.”
She hears me.
I close my eyes, soak in the semi-darkness, and listen to Shi softly breathing on the ground.
Sage Knight enjoys the darkness and the light at Top O’ Topanga with her Golden Retriever, Shiloh. She welcomes your visits to www.SageKnight.com. Shi welcomes treats.