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Re-thinking Emotional Darkness

Can we learn to embrace our suffering?

After the border reopened, our family took a long-awaited vacation to New Zealand to be away from the city. One of our stops was at Lake Tekapo – near the middle of the South Island.

Apart from the beautiful turquoise lake, this place is also famous for its star-gazing experiences. Lake Tekapo is part of the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve.  As there is very little light pollution here, people can enjoy a clear view of the galaxies. My husband had planned this stop intentionally as seeing shooting stars is one of the items on my short bucket list. I had tried to fulfil this wish when I visited Malaysia, Maldives and Thailand, but to no avail.  The night sky was simply too bright at these places.

[Photos credit to Pixabay]

It dawned on me that being able to see the dark sky is a luxury in our modern world. We must go out of our way to remote places so that we can see the bright stars clearly.  Even then, there’s no guarantee that we can see the stars as it also depends on a myriad of other factors like the weather, cloud cover and the brightness of the moon.  In Tekapo, the weather left me disappointed again.   

The search for darkness in the sky got me pondering about the darkness in our lives. Do I want darkness in my life? Of course not! I believe most of us feel the same way!

Thomas Edison’s tiny lightbulb was revolutionary.  When we can bring light so ubiquitously into every corner of the world, our lives are enriched as we can work and socialize deep into the night.  However, too much light can deprive us from experiencing the natural darkness, and this loss of darkness has adverse effects in upsetting our bodies’ natural hormonal responses, messing up our circadian rhythm, and impeding us from having quality sleep. This phenomenon in our emotional lives.  When we seek to eliminate darkness in the form of pain and suffering from our lives, we lose an essential part of living.   We seek to minimize pain through control but wither from adversity arises from sources beyond our control – illness, loss, broken relationships, betrayal etc.  

As you are reading this article, you may be going through some dark moments in your life that may seem unsurmountable and overwhelming. I know that it can feel painful and unbearable, but I want to encourage you to shower yourself with self-love and self-compassion, just like how you would cover yourself with a cloak or jacket when you are in a cold place or curving up your body to preserve heat to make yourself feel a little more comfortable. In learning to hold yourself through this moment of suffering, you will appreciate the beautiful sky with luminous stars, and perhaps also the unforgettable surprise of shooting stars when the suffering passes.  And it will pass one day.

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