Lately, a lot of thoughts have been running through my mind. Most of them boil down to how to separate the signal from the noise, how to know the difference between what is familiar and what is healthy?
This line of inquiry came about sometime last week as I was in my last acting class of the term when the lights suddenly went out. Immediately there were a lot of different responses. Some individuals in the room frantically moved about until they could produce light via cellphone or flashlight. Another group also proceeded towards finding light, however their approach (reactions to the situation at hand) seemed more calm and deliberate. A third group sat back and let the first group do all the work. While a fourth group seemed to just observe all the different reactions in the room.
For honesty’s sake, I was somewhere in the third or fourth group.The darkness seemed to provide me with a great deal of relief and comfort. And in that comfort, in that anonymity, I just sat and watched some of my peers move about the pitch black studio in their attempts to find and restore light. After sources of light had been found, we continued where we had left off with each group presenting what they had been working on for the past few weeks. As the performers were lit by the paltry light of 8 – 10 cellphone or flashlights, there was a greater sense of intimacy and awareness – both on their end as well as on our end. Suddenly in the darkness it seemed that both the audience and performers were able to see clearer in their attempts to see anything at all.
All of this got me to thinking about the various periods in our lives that are considerably “darker” than others. Those moments in life where something suddenly changes and disrupts the status quo. Whether it be a death, a loss of a job, the end of a relationship, or an injury or an illness, these periods of darkness often result in a series of actions (or lack there of) aimed at returning to what was. However, if we are honest with ourselves, we may see, as was the case in my acting class, that the darkness revealed something that the light had obscured – i.e. that something wasn’t working. That we’d grown accustomed to a way of being, a way of seeing, a way of working that had limited growth and possibility. We’d allowed the familiar to take root in our bodies, minds, hearts, and actions in a way that was no longer healthy or healing. And because this way of being was familiar, it blinded us so that we couldn’t detect the internal signal that something was wrong from the external noise that wanted to maintain things as they were.
The question I have for you, the one I am working to answer for myself, is: what is the darkness revealing to you? What light is being shed on your own blind spots? How do you react to the moments of darkness, of contraction, within your life? Are you frantically moving about, moving with deliberate thought and action, remaining passive, or have you resigned to the circumstances around you? Is this approach working for you – ultimately? And if it is not, are you willing to face the challenges inherent in change or are you more determined to return to what was familiar?
There is no right or wrong in any of these questions. All are presented so that they may help you see with more clarity what the status quo (or the desire to maintain/attain the status quo) might be obscuring. For change is not possible without first becoming aware that something that isn’t working and change is needed.