At my recent birthday redux dinner, an exceptional artist and friend, Sophia Wallace, asked an insightful question. She wanted to know if all of the “positive” news and sound bites we put out via Social Media create a false sense of reality. Perhaps there is a sense of distortion as the picture is all light and no shadow to contrast.
Rule number 1 in blogging is to stay on the upbeat side. Your blog post is supposed to either inspire, educate or entertain, if not serve all three purpose. It’s hard to fulfill any of those requirements when your post is filled with negativity and gloom. When you utilize Social Media as a part of your business, not only is doom and gloom out, but so it bitching about other people.
Yet darkness and light are two sides of the same coin and to pretend that our lives are always filled with cotton candy and rainbows is deceptive and false. I would like to ask you to indulge me for today and allow me to go into the shadow and talk about darkness for a bit.
My dear friend Simon took his own life last week. When I related the news to another friend of ours, she replied, that is awful, he was troubled.
Simon had a great capacity for darkness, perhaps more so than others. Peace was always a little harder to come by for him. I think some were unsettled by his darkness. The darkness in others reflects back as our own shadow self, and the reflection is part of the same impulse to keep our Social Media output cheerful that can quickly become alienating and false. But Sophia is right, can you really be that happy all the time?
What I am interested in is why we are so afraid of the darkness? In others and in ourselves? Is it because we are told that its bad marketing / no one wants to be depressed / made aware of their own mortality / no one likes a downer?! Help me out there and fill in the blanks.
I understand the marketing principal in keeping things on the upbeat side but the irony is that it is the posts where the writer is honest and vulnerable that get the most feedback and engagement (as confirmed by myself and other bloggers).
I believe it is our humanness, our mortality, our flaws and our weaknesses that makes us interesting. Our individuation from one another comes from those characteristics, from the our battle wounds and shadow selves. The question is not whether we have darkness within but how we transform, transmute and translate the darkness that gives our lives and our art depth and meaning.
There is no light without shadows. Without contrast the image fails to take form and is only a monochromatic block of singularity.
We should embrace our darkness, explore it with curiosity, and discover it in earnest. If we didn’t shy away from the shadow, perhaps those of us who are prone to more darkness would be more at ease in reaching out, our lives would be richer and the art we create would have more depth and significance.
There will be a memorial for Simon today. Many of our classmates will be there to celebrate the amazingly incredible person Simon was and how fortunate we all were to have shared various adventures with him. Simon was a faithful, loyal, steadfast friend, incredible actor, brilliant writer / director, insightful scholar and a courageous warrior who never shied away from his own darkness and always embraced the darkness in me. I would like to dedicate this post to my dear friend.