Hiding in the Shadows

Karen wants to dwell in the light.

Those were actually her exact words last night. Ironic that she would say that, as I am, physiologically, so sensitive to sunlight. Take it away, I get depressed. Give me a lot, I’m pretty happy. Perhaps that’s the reason that the only season I really have any use for is the summer. I’m a pleasant sort of guy. I enjoy being in the light, as well…yet, I spend so much time in the dark.

Karen has difficulty reading my fiction. She gets, to use her words, “freaked out.” When I write fiction, I tend to explore the dark, to probe its depths, in order to find a way to redemption, or at least to the possibility of redemption. Art, after all, asks a question…it isn’t so much in the business of providing answers.

That leaves me concerned a bit for myself. I believe that I am “in the light” now, or at least I actively attempt to follow that Way. Yet, I spend a great deal of time in the dark. The people I help every day at work, the friends I walk beside who are wrestling with dark times, the memories of my own spiritually unhealthy decisions…these are all part of the journey to bring me to the light. Unfortunately, I don’t portray the “in the light” concept nearly as well as I explore the darkness that preceded it…what Buechner called the tragedy of the Message preceding the comedy. When I act, I act dark roles the best. I gravitated toward Heath Ledger’s final performance as the Joker last summer. I direct drama better than comedy. I write explorations of the darkest parts of our souls, and leave the discovery of the light as a question mark, a possibility that is beyond me to articulate.

That’s not to say that I don’t think we discover the light; to the contrary, I have done so. We all slip back into the dark periodically, however, and I’m sometimes concerned that it is that part of the human condition that I explore the best. Of course, art that explores the other side tends to lack substance at best, or be didactic at worst, so perhaps the issue is that I’m afraid of being either of those things.

All that to say, I think I’m really good at exploring the side of us that we don’t like to recognize is there, because ultimately humans don’t hold an answer to the problem anyway. At the end, I long to point to the Way, and I am in hopes that I do that in some capacity.

And, if not, I think I’ll have to find an editor other than my wife.

Thoughts?

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