I came across these lines, randomly scrawled in one of my notebooks:
“I miss the black wings of darkness. There are things I can’t see in the light.” –Neruda*
I’m always tempted by the paradoxical. This one resonates with truth for me, and I wanted to explore why.
Here on the Northwest coast of the US winters are grim and glum and filled with what seems like constant rain. Wet snow dumps on our mountains. We adore the beauty and the promise of water for our dry summer months, but in the moment I can shudder with fear. Mudslides can swamp towns, eat them whole. Though brave souls try, no one can really control avalanches. This dark season too many young men have been lost in crevasses, not yet found.
It is a dark time.
And the darkness doesn’t stop here in Bellingham. It reaches across the country in what has become a cliché of political disfunction, and across the planet too. I am writing a novel about the need to kill off all of humanity in order to save Mother Earth. This is not cheering me up, in case anyone wondered. And yet that is what I am working on. Am I a masochist? Sometimes I think I must be. And yet, paradoxically, I think I’m doing this in order to heal.
As I write about our necessary death as a species, I immerse myself in the anguish of love for all the wonder we humans represent. (I was going to say “bring to this planet” but I’m not ready to say that yet). We are truly remarkable at surviving, for creating strengths out of our many weaknesses as organisms. Pathetic excuses, really, for a species. Can’t fly. Hah! We figured it out. Can’t find enough food to populate the planet with our species: we figured that out also. Can’t spin webs, so we learned to spin fibers, weave them together–weave other things too: metals, atoms. Can’t do echolocation. We’ve got radar and sonar and the internet. In addition, there’s our ability to paint and dance and create symphonies of sound. And to tell stories.
So surely there is hope that we’ll figure out how to be a good species for our planet. And it cheers me up, this little ray of sunshine that I seem to only find in my pit of dark despair.
In times of darkness, we must look sideways–or maybe deeply–in order to see beauty. To see the strength of will burgeoning deep in the soil, gathering power for the uplift of spring.
I’ll leave it there. I want to know what others think of this quotation–if it speaks to anyone besides me.
*I credited Pablo Neruda, but have come up empty on my searches for confirmation.