• Tricia Karp

The beauty and power of darkness

It was supposed to turn out.

The relationship, the dream, the career, the new city, the new country, the friendship, the project. All those hours of energy and passion invested. The desire and longing that led you there in the first place.

It was supposed to turn out and it didn't.

Faced with disappointment and pain, our impulse is to run and hide away from ourselves, to distract ourselves from defeat, failure, or what we deem was a dumb mistake after all. We want to fill our holes with the illusion of what will nourish us and make is all better. Food, drink, drugs, porn, TV, working too much and too hard and for too long. Shoving down, swallowing, guzzling, snorting and inhaling everything we don't want to feel.

We want to feel fully alive but we don't want to feel vulnerable and tender.

We want to heal but we don't want to feel too much, and certainly not if it requires us to feel uncomfortable or unpleasant or any other type of feeling that we just don't like.

This is what we do, us humans. It's completely understandable and there's no shame in it.

Perhaps we can simply ask ourselves whether our urge to run and hide, in whichever guise we choose, is useful, useless or harmful.

New growth can't happen without death. Creativity comes after destruction. Nature cycles through her moments, days and years with no judgment or favour. Summer and winter have equal value and purpose. The pouring rain is as necessary as the warm sunshine. The fallow ground is as essential as the spring blossoms.

There can be no light without the dark. We can take darkness by its hairy paw and hold it in our own shaky hand. Shudder as we might, we can still choose to say yes, even if it's just a barely audible mutter.

Healing often isn't fun. Our heart and dreams can and will shatter. Moments of glory, imbued with peace and joy, aren't always to be found within deep transformation. It can be akin to the forest being burnt down to make way for new life. Its heat can be unbearable.

And yet, we have the opportunity to find our way home to ourselves, for our wholeness to be revealed, when we choose the work of healing. Isn't that what we want?

It doesn't interest me if there is one God

or many gods.

I want to know if your belong or feel


If you know despair or see it in others.

I want to know

if you are prepared to live in the world

with its harsh need

to change you. If you can look at me with firm eyes

saying this is where I stand. I want to know

if you know how to melt into that fierce heat of living

falling toward

the centre of your longing. I want to know

if you are willing

to live, day by day, with the consequence of love

and the bitter

unwanted passion of your sure defeat.

I have heard, in that fierce embrace, even

the gods speak of God.

~ Self Portrait, by David Whyte

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Photo by ankhesenamum