Seeing in the Dark

 

nocturnal animals shadows silhouettes money

powerful spirits help you in the dark

My mom told me she heard or read an American Indian story about a boy who was cast out from his village, but his mother told him, “Remember I taught you to see in the dark.” I can’t find the story on the web now, but it sounds like an interesting one.

You can see in the dark. Rather than seeing by flashlight, you can see by starlight. It’s not like daylight, where things are sharp and clear, but you can see shapes and movement. It’s all a matter of turning off that flashlight and letting your eyes adjust.

I’ve been looking at getting a new day job for several months now. But my problem is what am I going to do if I find one? I’ve got that flashlight vision of “I wish I was making more money”: I could pay off my debt; I could start an IRA; I could have more savings for the future and emergencies. Better yet, I could travel more, and in comfort! I could have my art made into prints to take to cons and sell, get all the trappings for a great vendor space!

But the bigger picture here: I’ve been working about 32 hours a week for several years at my current day job. I’m used to having 8 hours at home every weekday to work on art and writing, walk for exercise, take breaks, eat, sleep. I start working 40 hours a week, especially if I had to drive to Greenville, an hour away: that leaves 4 hours in the evening.

So I double my money, and cut my own time in half. And all those ideas about travel and going to cons: what if I can’t ask my new boss for an extra day off on the weekend?

What’s the bigger picture still? What am I not seeing out there in the dark? Because I get dependent on that flashlight, because I forget to turn it off and get my bearings in the whole landscape, not just that little circle that has the illusion of clarity.

What I really want is to work freelance full time, to illustrate for magazines, book covers, graphic novels, and to write and sell my short stories and eventually novels. Every successful author or artist I’ve ever seen interviewed says this is a tough business, but it’s the most rewarding and they wouldn’t think of doing anything else.

From where I am now I cannot see how long it will take to work my way into working for myself full time, making a living doing so. Will the business I’m currently working for go under in the recession before I get my footing? Will I be able to break even if I start vending prints and portraits at cons now? I can’t see these details as I’m standing in the dark; not even a flashlight can shine that far ahead, just a blur in the mist.

So I have to turn off the flashlight. I have to be still, keep my eyes open, but be calm. There’s no need to feel disoriented, I’m still standing in the same place I was before. But there is a lot going on around me.

When you stand in the dark, you begin to do more than see. Standing in the woods at night you smell the humidity in the air, you listen to the crickets, the owls, the occasional dog barking, probably at something even he cannot see, but he sets the neighborhood all around to barking anyway. Fireflies flash and you don’t feel quite so alone. You feel the air when it moves, hear the trees whispering. Maybe you know that rain is coming. Or maybe you look up and see the moon in the clear sky, coming through the leaves. And you realize you can see the leaves, black against the faintly lighter black sky. All your senses begin to read the story of the forest to you. You can see behind you the lighter dimness opening out at the edge of the trees: the place you came from. And ahead of you the shadows are thicker between the trees, but still you can see for yards away, something your little flashlight couldn’t do.

Obstacles in the path are easy enough to sense and move around, and no sudden pitfall in the ground is hidden if you have sense enough to look down, as well as up and to both sides (which you do, by the way). Sometimes there are bears in the woods. But remember: they’re just as afraid of you as you are of them.

In life, according to the Law of Attraction teachings, the Universe is out to help you, to give you what you ask for. It’s not up to you to determine all the details of how the things you ask for come into your experience. It generally works better if you focus on what you really want and feel good about that, do what you can to move yourself forward, and let the Universe work out the details.

And so, perhaps, you turn from the light, and walk deeper into the dark to see what’s on the other side.

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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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2 comments on “Seeing in the Dark
  1. The story was “Flight” by John Steinbeck. It’s not Native American, sorry about that. If the boy had more starlight vision, he might have survived.

  2. I really appreciate your blog as this is a subject that is never understood correctly or appreciated for it’s true value!

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