Saturday, December 19

How Are You In the Darkness?

The darkness. 

Do you sleep in it?

Sit in it and think?

What do you do when you are in it?

Avoid it altogether?

For me, I have always disliked the dark. My older brother was in charge of babysitting us on occasion, and when those times occurred, he dragged his four younger siblings (me included) into the basement to watch scary movies. Due to one such occasion When a Stanger Calls has been burned into my long term memory and shall never leave.

Other than this, I have always had a vivid and active imagination; constantly over engaging scenes and expounding on creative thoughts in my mind. This includes Freddy Krueger under my bed as I sleep; green slobbery ghouls in my closet; strange, creepy men trying to break into my home; dark creatures ripping open the shower curtain as I attempt to wash my hair. See?!? My imagination, one of my loopier sides.

You might have thought I grew up, but no. As an adult I still do not EVER sleep in the dark. While at university for the second time, I slept in my Aunt’s house in a bedroom with no window, and in order to sleep at night I had to purchase and use a nightlight. Darkness is too creepy for me.

This past week I went to the Tate Modern Museum in London and stumbled upon an enormous, black, dark, empty, box. To enter or not to enter....that was the question. Upon further investigation the ticket agent mentioned he liked the box, and went to hide in it during his lunch breaks. With this knowledge I realized it was time for me to face my fear of the dark, and enter the blackness of the gigantic, installed shipping container titled How It Is.

Before entering the box of fear I read the curator’s description (Heather Sainsbury, Kathy Noble):


Artist: Miroslaw Balka

" 'How shall I move forward?' you might ask yourself, as you stand at the threshold, confronted by the darkness ahead. Many of us learn from an early age to fear the unfamiliar or unknown. If the unknown is also without light, it can become unjustifiably terrifying. How you approach the unknown is unique, as your first encounter with anything can only ever be as an individual. Staring ahead into the black void of How It Is may make you wonder whether to move ahead at all. How Is It simultaneously embodies the unknown and the familiar; the darkness is contained in a structure mimicking both the architecture of the Turbine Hall and a contemporary shipping container, luring you inwards through its recognisable form.

'It's fine', you reassure yourself, 'what can actually be inside?'

How It Is is only complete when you, the viewer, enter. Yet rather than forming a stage or spectacle, the container focuses you inwards, both physically and psychologically, as you enter into the darkness. In choosing how to move ahead - to march in fearlessly, or to skirt along the walls, probably surprised by their soft, furry touch - you create your own journey. But, as you bump into others, or mistakenly grab a stranger's shoulder, your trepidation eases and you collectively navigate the void."

I entered with confidence, then quickly skirted toward the walls. Felt its softness, used it as a guide, regained my confidence and stepped out again into the blackness. I could make out two human shapes in the distance, but I did not grab onto their arms. My legs just began stepping one in front of the other, slowly becoming accustomed to the black I had always feared. It was so incredibly enjoyable! I left the container, then returned proud as I was not yet done in the black box. Here are my illegal pictures of the black box.

Face your fears. The dark is not as horrible as I thought. Freddy Krueger did not appear. But I shall still sleep with a nightlight to illuminate the complete and utter darkness of a windowless room. My imagination is sure there are still monsters out there.

If the darkness does not help you, perhaps this might:  On Becoming Fearless by Arianna Huffington.

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