Podcast: The Gift of Darkness


“And then the day came when the risk to remain tight as a bud became more painful that the risk to bloom.” 

Anais Nin


There are moments of darkness in everyone’s life. Often it is pushed away and denied. But sometimes the most valuable gifts are discovered in the darkest places.


When the writer Dennis Potter was dying of pancreatic cancer he gazed out of his window at the blossom on the trees.

‘…it is the whitest, frothiest, blossomest blossom that there ever could be..’, he said, ‘…the nowness of everything is absolutely wondrous…’


It seems that the harshness and the beauty of life are tightly woven, like two sides of one fabric. And it’s something I’m often aware of when I meet new clients.


When a person arrives feeling desperate or distraught, of course, I feel empathy.  But I also feel excited, because I know that those raw moments offer opportunity. There is a sense of letting go. And an openness to something new.


When it’s time for a hermit crab to move to a larger shell there is a moment when his or her soft body is exposed and vulnerable. But the tightness of the old shell demands change, and vulnerability is required for the change to happen.


Often we humans shy away from feelings of vulnerability: from what is sore or sad or shameful. We push it to the back of our minds. We fill our time with activity or alcohol. Or we turn away and stick our fingers in our ears, and we pretend.


And for a while that can work. And it seems the darkness is kept at bay. But sooner or later it will demand attention. A crisis is often the catalyst. Or the simple realization that something must be done, or must be faced.


It takes courage to turn towards anything painful, and to open to it. It takes courage to feel whatever is arising and let it be. Without too much judgment. Without too much self-criticism. Just with curiosity.


And sometimes, like for the hermit crab, there is nothing to be done but face the need for change. There may be feelings of desperation. And there may also be a sense of readiness. And perhaps, without even noticing, there is courage.


Gazing into the darkness, the eyes begin to adjust. The shadows fall away. And what is revealed is precious beyond gold.