Falling in Love with my Fear of the Dark

(By Drishtti Rawat, Founder and Editor-In-Chief, Paprikashta)

Fear, at its very basic level- is an emotion. And well, humans experience emotions, though I wouldn’t say that all human beings experience all emotions. However, for something such as fear- which derives itself from the possibility of threat, it is hard to say that a said human being has never experienced it. For we live in no utopia- there is always a threat- or is so assumed. Even a fearless person might fear the possibility of fear itself.

Threat. As fear derives itself from threat- so does threat derive itself from either the known, or more often, the unknown. Now, I don’t prefer to use the word ‘unknown’- I’d rather connect it with something we consider every day, that is- possibility. Almost every fear can be derived from possibilities. For example, the possibility(or inevitability) of death which, I consider more as the fear of losing out on future possibilities that could have been explored if it weren’t for the end.  Or say, the fear of heights being more about the possibility of falling down and getting hurt.

Or, the fear of the dark being about the fear of what possibly lies within it.

As a very small kid, I was initially quite scared of the dark. I remember resisting to my full extent, to enter a ‘haunted house’ or a ghost-themed amusement park. This certainly did not amuse me, which led me to think differently- and led me to have the perception of the dark that I hold today. Resulting in such a perception were quite some realisations- as graciously this head of mine can remember. I can’t remember my exact age when all so happened- but funnily enough I remember talking to myself with the same voice inside of me that I have today. (maybe because we never truly grow up eh?)

Realisation I- I see you

I began to think about what does actually make us so scared of the unknown, which for me then was the  dark. And with no surprise, it is- uncertainty, and as I said earlier- possibility. For we are not certain of what might be or what might come- our crazy mind of assumptions and imaginations does create a false sense of certainty of what might be  or what might come. This unfortunately, is usually the worst-case scenario. While trying to go to sleep in the dark, my mind would act silly “Oh my God, what is that shadow? Its obviously not the chair but a demon instead.” “Oh dear Lord, what just moved there? Obviously not the curtains, its a ghost.”

We are humans. We think silly. We act silly. Especially if you’re a 7 to 12 year old kid (again as I said, I don’t remember the age).

What did I do next? I did what I thought was the obvious solution, hide under the blanket and create more of what you were already scared of- darkness. Ingenious. And with more of darkness (I honestly don’t know what ‘more dark’ means though- so lets just talk in quantity and not intensity)-came more of possibilities, imagination and worst-case scenarios.

Now normally a solution for this is to turn on the lights, see what’s actually there and then poof- you’re no longer scared. (for that moment-or maybe not). However, turning on the lights each time is not  very feasible- nor is it very easy to go across the room and switch on the lights when you have a lava of fear between your bed and the switchboard. So one night, for some reason, I decided to act a little brave. Instead of looking away and hiding under the blanket- I stared back into the dark. I stared until I could see what was the truth. Stared until the ghost became a curtain. Stared until the demon became a chair. Stared until I was no longer afraid. And it actually works- according to science, our eyes adapt to the darkness. Now this is quite a no-brainer. But, this was also when I started looking at this method metaphorically.

Realisation II- Seeing in the dark, metaphorically

I had established the fact that if I look long enough, I can in fact see that there is nothing to be scared of. So my mind then switched to metaphors.

If you look long enough, you can see in the dark.

If you fight hard enough, you can eliminate fear.

If you search hard enough, you will eventually find what you were looking for.

So apparently, little Drishtti had formed an ideology- if you stay put, you can fight off anything. And that’s some encouragement for a kid, honestly- I know how it affected me. But, eventually you realise that that isn’t always the case.

Not everything can be won over just by fighting. Not every problem can be solved just by looking it back in the eye with all your might. As different from the norm does this sound, it actually stands true. “Try and try till you succeed” does not work until you try smartly. This meant that there is a need for change. If plan A doesn’t succeed, you need to change your methodology. You must do something about it. You. 

This was one massive thought that struck me really hard. It is you who decides what the situation is. It is you who decides what the situation can be. And in the case of little Drishtti, it is you who decides what is in the dark.

And if it is you who decides, then the unknown-threat factor gets eliminated. Ah, and then things took an amazing turn.

Realisation III- Creativity and Falling in love with the dark

After realising that I was in control, I started to enjoy this power and continued to use it. Its intensity began to increase, I’d rather call it a ‘creativity-spurt’. There have been endless nights when the same curtains that terrified me were not curtains at all. Curtains turned into portals to other dimensions, doors changed into waffles, chairs changed into TNT boxes (behind which I was obviously hiding from the gangsters who wanted me dead). I won’t say I never imagined ghosts or demons- but it was no longer the worst-case scenario, it was rather something that filled me with excitement.That was also the time when I started having such amazing dreams. Now I also maintain a mental dream-bucket. And yes, I sometimes have to wake up and write down my dreams.

Not only had I stopped fearing the dark, but I had begun to fall in love with it.

People who know me know that I absolutely love night-time. The silence and the calm, give your mind such clarity to think deeper and expand your horizons. You begin to see how beautiful even the darkness can be. You begin to see how beautiful even nothing can be. You begin to see how your mind can make just about anything beautiful.

Within no time I became an insomniac-writer. A thinker. And oh, how much do I love to think.

I can definitely say that my fear of the dark did, in someway- make me a thinker. I fell in love with my fear of the dark.

(also posted on drishtti ki drishtti se)

(image source)