On wrestling with the darkness and letting it be. And yes, I’ve got an inner Bigfoot.
I love believing in things: transformation, making one’s dreams a reality, a well-balanced meal, the Sasquatch.
Yes, the Sasquatch. Bigfoot. Hairy, elusive, seductive. Like Chuck Norris, but taller and more rural. The Sasquatch has always been alluring to me.
And at a basic level, it’s not just the Sasquatch; it’s what the Sasquatch represents—the mythic dark wildness hulking through the forest, keeping us wondering and perched on the edges of our seats, keeping us dreaming, keeping us praying.
And as much as I dig the Sasquatch, savoring TV specials with hokey film footage and ginormous plaster-casted footprints, I haven’t always been the most comfortable with the dark unknown. I’ve long been a big fan of nightlights and making other people check inside closets and under beds for me. For example, I could only view the movie The Sixth Sense with my friend Ann, my roommate at the time, who had seen it already and thus could warn me when the scary parts were coming. Creepy dead person at three o’clock. Close your eyes now. Look away. Look away!
But no matter how many nightlights I turn on or how large of a team I assemble to protect me, I’ve learned that I can’t hold off the darkness forever, that, as it turns out, the darkness isn’t actually something outside of me.
This past week I’ve come face to face again with the darkness that is grief over the loss of a precious relationship and the ache that comes with letting go and healing. And in this current bout with darkness, I’ve realized that I’ve definitely been focusing more on whether or not it might eat me than on how magical and mysterious it is. So I suppose I’m writing this as a reminder to myself that I can reframe the darkness in a friendlier, or at least furrier form that calls up as much awe as fear in me.
I might have some trepidation about facing a timber wolf or a tiger, but I also have respect and appreciation for its wild beauty. And perhaps, so it can be with my grief or anger or pain. Perhaps I can rename my own pain Sasquatch and find some wisdom therein. And yes, by the way, I guess this does mean that I have an inner Sasquatch.
For a while, I’ve declared my intention to fulfill my childhood longing and find the actual Sasquatch out here in my new Pacific Northwest home, to somehow lure the creature full out into the light and get a good long look. But now I’m not so sure that’s the best idea. Now I’m wondering if my best bet with my proverbial (as well as the actual) Sasquatch is not to hunt it or trap it or examine it up close, but for now, to find power and strength in just letting it be where it is.
Which sounds a little strange. I don’t know about you, but most of the time, I don’t see the might of inertia glorified. Although when I do, it always seems to wake me up somehow, like it did this last week.
Over the last seven days, I’ve had two separate conversations with two new entrepreneurial friends abut praying for things in their respective businesses. I was touched by their appreciation for the power of intention as on par with the power of say, marketing. Since I started my own business this past fall, I’ve gained first hand knowledge of the work that goes into it. And since the beginning of this month, I’ve been in serious action mode, tending to all kinds of details, from long-range planning to budgeting, publicizing, and communicating with clients. In the midst of all of that action, I had forgotten about the other side of action, the part where you take a deep breath poised at the starting line, or standing off stage, at the ready for your grand entrance.
Of course I believe that we are all wise to balance prayer or intention or whatever you’d like to call it with action. In addition to holding our intentions in the light or offering a prayer to a deity or making a request to the universe, we entrepreneurs do need to go out and pound the pavement. And we people do need to go and tend to those who have suffered disaster, like our fellow beings in Haiti. Active service is not to be underestimated.
And usually, it isn’t. Usually, we all have no problem praising the do-ers, the movers and shakers. But the sitters, the contemplators, well, I think it’s fair to say that they often can get underestimated or even viewed as foolish and weak.
But not always. I have had a number of teachers, friends, and companions who speak of and live a belief in this kind of quiet power—pacifists, practitioners of yin yoga, really anyone who “lets go and lets god” or goddess or life just do its thing. Just like these new friends of mine who found it worthy to take time to pray and to trust something they couldn’t see to take care of them in their working and living.
And I don’t think that’s foolish at all.
I think we believe in things, big unknowable things, not because we’re stupid and naïve and hallucinating, but because we see the results of big and somehow unknowable things every day. We know they’re possible, that they’re happening in the dark, underground, while we sleep, while we’re not looking, or even while we are.
This week, on a bus ride downtown, I was sitting behind a woman who was chatting with another woman across the aisle about their respective alcoholic ex-husband and father, and I barely noticed that a child sat next to the first woman. A few stops after I got on, the woman stood up and said “Wake up sleepy” to the seat next to her, and a little boy, maybe four years old, stood up and drowsily trotted off after her. He was no more than three feet tall and wearing a plaid fedora, like someone’s grandpa might wear. As he ambled off of the bus, I noticed two other passengers, older men who could very well have been grandpas themselves, smiling and watching him go, clearly enjoying the hat, one of them saying, “Reminds me of the one I used to wear,” the other nodding his head in approval and saying, “My man.”
I thought about the juxtaposition of the old hat on the little head, and I think I saw the perfect example of a big unknowable thing that can and does happen before our eyes, but still pulses with mystery. A three foot little boy can transform into a grown man with a full history of being. We certainly have scientific explanations for how it works, how a body grows, so it’s not magic, not really—it’s life. But how a tiny person can sprout into a grown up and build relationships and lose them and build new ones and make choices and make art and make self and get sick and get well and fall down and get up again—it still takes my breath away. Especially what happens underneath and within.
What happens inside the darkness of a womb or the skin of a growing person or in the black earth of our grandfather’s garden. What happens over the course of seventy years or from the stillness of one winter to the emerald erupting of the following spring. Makes me want to look at a tulip, grinning and nodding my head. “My man.”
The darkness may be a place where I experience loss and devastation, where I don’t know how I’m going to survive without the person I thought would be by my side forever. The darkness may be a place that drives me to my knees and collapses me to the ground until I feel like I’ve lost myself, drenched in my own tears and blindly curled up like a fetus, or a seed.
But the darkness is also a place where curling up doesn’t only mean surrender, where curling up is a charged state, a coiling, like something ready to spring or to be spring. We all grow in the dark, and we all grow towards the light. We need both.
And while the light might seem an easier friend, the dark also extends a big hand to us. Or, as the case may be, a big foot.
So I’m reminding myself right now to take a deep breath and wave back to whatever it is lumbering about in the black forest of my unconscious, whatever it is that just stepped to the edge of the woods and offered me a fleeting glimpse of thick fur and familiar eyes.
Maybe another day when I’m feeling rowdy or brave, I’ll run full on after it, tear through the trees and yell like a warrior. But today, in this moment, I’ll be rowdy with immobility and bravely let my Sasquatch be.
Thank you so much for reading. You might notice that I don’t have a space for comments, but I’m certainly open to conversation about what’s written here. If you’re so inspired, feel free to start a conversation with me via the contact form on the homepage of this site.