Published in  
January 13, 2015

But the dark is not mute

It has been said, so very often, that it is darkest before the dawn – that when plaintive shadows trickle away, the sun would be clearer for it – and this is often spoken as if shadows and dark places exist only to make the light feel better about itself.

As if grief and pain are more transient, and levity and happiness absolute. As if the purpose of a flaw is that it must always be fixed. As if the reason for all journeys is to arrive. As if darkness is merely the absence of light.

But the dark is not mute. She is not vacuous, vain, and derived like a listless moon shining only by virtue of a condescending sun. She speaks her own language. With a sensuous eloquence. The kind of eloquence that gives birth to seed and nurtures it away from haranguing light. The kind that allows us to notice that other things move and act and want and breathe in this world – and that in this ecosystem of plaited relationships, absolute joy would be intolerable. The kind that melts everything, makes all things fluid – and disturbs our notions of virtue as discrete objects, or discrete events, or discrete things. The kind that admires gaps and spots and broken edges. Indeed, were it not for shadows and shadowy moments, life couldn’t be possible.

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It is the dance of shadows and light that give things depth. The night is darkest before the dawn, because the day is brightest before dusk.