Sharing Strangers

Dark Side juggler

balancing Dark and Light can be a juggling act

Some are satin, some are steel
Some are silk and some are leather
They’re the faces of the stranger
But we love to try them on

Billy Joel’s “The Stranger” carries a very strong message about Darkness, and not just in the haunting melody that leads into and out of the song.

Everyone has a Dark Side. It manifests itself in many different ways. Some people fear that part of their inner self; others may not be consciously aware of it at all. Still others revel in it, and some let their Darkness ride them to the point of unhealthy danger to themselves. But though it is less dominant in some than in others, I am certain it is always there.

There is always that side of yourself that you keep for only your own secret thoughts. There is a part of yourself that you converse with only when no one else is listening. Or perhaps, if you’re lucky, you’ve found someone that you can share that face with.

This is what the song is about mainly, is how the Stranger within us all affects our relationships.

Naturally, you should not fear your Dark Side. It is a part of you, your whole Self, and therefore you should accept it and incorporate it into your life. You must explore your Dark Side, understand it, care for it, feed it.

But in a relationship (I’m referring mainly to romantic love here, but also to anyone closest to you, whether family or friend), you should not try to hide your Dark Side from your love.

The song speaks of the “danger” of meeting the Stranger in your lover. But I think the danger comes from waiting until you can’t restrain that side of your Self, until one of you has an off-kilter day that draws the Other out into the open. With no previous experience with that side of a person, of course a lover can’t be expected to understand and appreciate them.

So in exploring your Dark Side, also look for ways you could express that side of your Self to the one you love. And know their inner Self too. Explore as much as you can of yourself and them, looking for those places where bridges need to be built. Understand that their darkness most likely won’t be the same as yours (but wouldn’t it be meaningful if surprisingly it was!), and you will have to find words (or other means, use your imagination) to effectively communicate it to them. You won’t try to change who you are, or who they are, in any essential way, but that deeper understanding will bring the relationship to a different level.

Of course, this is going to be hard to do! If you find it doesn’t work, don’t make yourself unhappy trying to fix it or doubting your love for each other, for any reason in any way. But you should be able to ask for what you want. If you never ask, your love may never have any inkling of how you feel (even mind-readers have their limits).

Some thoughts for questions that you might ask yourself or your lover have come to me for this meditation:

If you were a vampire (or werewolf, or whatever dark creature you feel most drawn to),  not as a character from a story, but as you, your Self, what would you do? It should be something you can do with just a look, or with the slightest touch or movement. How would you carry yourself differently, look at people and the world, thoughts you might not otherwise realize that you’re thinking, different costume or makeup, as well as, obviously, what actions would you take, impulses you’d follow?

If you are, most of the time, the “day,” what would be the “night” of yourself? Try to slip into that Self as easy as sunset, and back again, sunrise.

What is the “moon” of you, instead of the “sun”?

You may never understand
How the stranger is inspired
But he isn’t always evil
And he is not always wrong
Though you drown in good intentions
You will never quench the fire
You’ll give in to your desire
When the stranger comes along.

I am a writer/illustrator of various types of speculative fiction but mostly modern fantasy. I have loved magic, and the people and creatures who live with it and use it, all my life, and writing and drawing these people in modern environments makes it all the more real to me. I also like to add an element of Darkness and horror, as well as science fiction, for “flavor”. I am fascinated with everything from unicorns and dragons to vampires and demons.

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