Are You Afraid of the Dark?

I finally finished my last assignment. I turned and looked at the clock. It read 4AM.

After cleaning up a little, I retreated to my room and turned the lights off and, after saying my prayers, got into bed to sleep.

As I looked up and around my dark room, I could not help but feel unsettled. Even now, as a 22-year-old, I still don’t really like the dark. It’s honestly frightening.

That night, however, a distinct thought of irony crossed my mind, and rapidly the fear began to subside.

I reflected as I looked around the dark room and continued to gather the minimal sensory information there – I could not see anything – on the fact that, roughly several hours earlier that day, I was exhausted after the previous late night of assignments. I tried to take a brief nap during the day or just sit around and do nothing for a moment or two in my room and I vividly remembered closing my blinds and trying to darken my room a little in order to make sleep and rest easier.

What, exactly, is so spooky about darkness? Is it the lack of sensory information? Is the slight dreadful uneasiness simply a consequence of evolutionary psychology? Am I experiencing what primitive man felt in the dark, where predators and dangers lurked invisibly around the corner? Is it some psycho-social construct relating darkness to danger or evil? Or, is it something else born of modernity?

I remembered looking around the room that night and thinking about how it was a moment of potential stillness. I remembered looking around the room and thinking, ‘interesting. In this darkness, instead of feeling dreadful about God-knows-what sitting here in my secured apartment on campus, maybe I could just not think for a while. Isn’t this the very space I was wishing for earlier today?’

But, perhaps it was not the space I was wishing for per se, but the space I needed. Maybe it was the feeling of idleness and the proceeding emptiness that night, at 4AM, that was scary. Maybe I have gotten too comfortable with being busy, and not comfortable enough with being still. I know a little bit of stillness would pull me out of this over-stimulating reality I have been presently living in with all these moving parts and plans and that, once I am pulled back, I would be forced to ponder a little more about it all. It’s scary to ponder, and it’s even scarier to not ponder and just simply be. Being idle is scary, and yet, in most theologies of the Sabbath, it is in this stillness that life is regenerated best.

Maybe I should turn off my phone hours before it’s time to sleep, and maybe I should go back to reading and resting more late at night.

One Comment

nedyasin posted on July 2, 2023 at 3:08 am

In general, the issue of fear is a relative matter… that is, sometimes it is good and sometimes it is bad…
But the fear of darkness does not know big or small and it is universal…

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