On the absence of light

People always look at me funny when I tell them that I don’t like the summer. My friends curse and throw things at me when I gloat at the first signs of Autumn. Summer for me is the New Year’s of seasons: overestimated and laden with false expectations of a great time…because God forbid you fail to enjoy it! You’re a boring loser who sits at home, does nothing, and doesn’t know how to make the best of the mother of all seasons. 

The beach, the sun, the heat, the sea, the tan, the tank tops, the dresses, the flip-flops. 

That is what most people (here in Greece) see the summer as. 

My interpretation is: heat, sweat, discomfort, and repeat. Most of the time it’s too hot to do anything and enjoy it, simply because you’re sweating like a pig from the moment you step out of the shower. Plus, I can never wear my favourite accessory: scarves. Sometimes it’s too hot to even eat, so no, I’m sorry. I’ll trade your colourful little flip-flops for my black leather boots, and your skimpy little dresses for my black leather jacket any day of the year. Yes, they’re all black. 

But there is one more reason I hate the summer, which I think is equally bothersome to me as the misery of constantly feeling hot and sticky while doing absolutely nothing: the lack of darkness. 

Oh don’t look at me that way. I know what you’re thinking, but I’ve never pretended to be normal and I’m not going to start now. Je refuse to apologize for my preference, nay conviction, in the beauty of the dark. 

Until recently, I was under the impression that my love of the night was born during my student years as an undergraduate in Canada. The all-nighters became a lovely habit. But then I realized, looking back on some of my earliest writing, that most, if not all of my creative juices flowed after the sun had gone down, and more often than not, well into the wee hours of the night. It’s difficult to explain to someone who doesn’t share the same excitement of the absence of natural light (which I love, but prefer in smaller doses). Not only am I more alive, energetic and creative when we stop looking at the sun but face the emptiness of space, but I also feel freer. 

Especially after 11 pm, when the city dies down, noise pollution is reduced, people crawl back into their little concrete holes/cages (call ’em what you will), when no one calls you, asks for you, bothers you, time becomes a gift and it ceases to be the terrifying hunter you spend your entire day running away from, or running ahead of, so it doesn’t catch you, imprison you, and remind you of everything you failed to accomplish. 

At night, time becomes your fellow traveler; and oh the company he keeps. If you’re good enough a companion, he might even let you in on a few secrets. I wish there was a word that described the way dark is shed…on things, bodies, and souls; just like the word illuminate reflects the light. Umbrate could work, but it is not shadows I speak of. Shadows are projections, they are remnants of the real, dark mirror images. And I crave to describe the clarity and unhindered quality of darkness. How within it we are whole. 

Don’t misunderstand me, I love the sun, especially on a crisp winter morning, as you hold a hot cup of coffee in your hands. But his absence reveals everything that his light encumbers with what must appear, but not necessarily exist. Sometimes in the day we only appear; we never are. 

My nights are responsible for 90% of all the writing I have ever done, including my PhD thesis. So how can I not love its quietude? How can I ignore its admirable and lovely secrecy? How can I not adore its hiding places? 

Like the summer heat, so the sun’s light is distracting. It shows you too many things at once, over-stimulating your vision and numbing your ability to appropriately process all that incoming data. But the night keeps your sight at minimum usage levels and instead allows for reflection on what you’ve witnessed, what you experienced and how it made you feel. The night is your psychiatrist, your confessor, your savior, your best friend, and your lover. And it is only black so that you may be the one to fill its landscape with as many colors and as much light as you need. 

The moment you will love it the most is when you realize that you can tame it. 

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