The Dark Night of My Soul

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On those moonless nights, when the sky meets the earth in a monotonous gray and one is compelled to befriend the night, when the stars are splashed nonchalantly against a blackened canvas, a thousand tiny diamonds of boiling gas and matter painted on to it, when the darkness is so thick it can be worn, I experience the dark night of the soul. I become it. On those nights, I question where life meets death and I become the friend of darkness simply by gazing at the stars and the planets and the cosmos. Each glint of starlight shines down on me alone, and only I can experience them for what the stars truly are: my dreams, desires, and goals. Each speaks to me alone and transforms to my eyes solely. Venus becomes a goddess, her true form, the lusty siren, beckoning for me to look closer, tempting me to unveil the shroud of distance. And so I do. I always do. I always have my binoculars ready so I can take a closer look and get lost in the god-like grandeur of the planets. Jupiter inspires me in his terrible beauty, a bright beam of lightning headed straight towards me. But I see just a dot, orbited by his Galilean minions. It’s strange though, how, in the darkest night of my soul, in my quest to understand and find God and myself, I instead discover the Roman deities in their galactic elegance. Yet when I get that feeling of emptiness and desolation inside of me, I search for them and walk the short fifteen minute walk to the peak of my neighborhood, the pinnacle of stargazing, my home away from home. It is a brief journey that I’m always willing to take - a walk of faith, hope, and loneliness, my night alone with the stars that do not judge - to my place of meditation.

The journey always begins in a trivial and ritual matter with me sliding on my sneakers and slipping on a jacket. But all commonality and monotony are whisked away with my breath the moment I can see the stars. I do not see the houses I pass on the way to my special place. My head is cocked upwards, scanning for the Hunter or the Dipper. Yet, I seem to always remember the sounds I hear on my way there. Families cooped up at the dinner table laugh and chatter, their TV emitting an endless drone, plates clanking conspicuously but never disturbing me. The crickets sing in synchrony and blur the sounds of the people just as the streetlights drown away the stars. It is there, halfway to my place of meditation, I am forced to look down. I can never bear this stretch of the way as it is unbearable to be blind to the night. But I enjoy the way the night feels light and dream-like when surrounded by the gallant trumpeting of crickets and the busy buzz of people. I enjoy my special place more, and so I run, climbing, climbing, climbing, climbing up the eternal hill, nearing the stars so I can grasp them and feel them. Yet they always feel just out of reach, just as the summit always does when I near the promontory of peaceful thinking; my special place.

My place of meditation may seem to others a mound of dirt in a filthy construction site. To me, it is a place that defies definition or flowery descriptions. The peak is a hill that not only overlooks a town and houses, but offers a glimpse into the bowels of the universe, where stars are stored and hidden until the darkness pries open the barrier of light that masks them. There are no trees or homes to obstruct my view; it’s just me and the night. It is there I realize that night is just like me. We are both bare and meaningless until the spotlight or the gazing watch of others is finally taken away so we may uncover ourselves. And so my special place is one where I can think in peace and in quiet and without being judged.

A zephyr rustles the skeletal trees off in the distance, morphing them in to creatures of the night. I am not afraid, for their branches seem to reach up to the sky, as if they are gazing into the universe, lost in its splendid magnitude. The ground is a blur around me, shrouded by night. Carefully, I step forward, towards the ledge, the hill seeming a cliff in the blindness. Sitting down, I look up and begin to search. I know not what I am searching for, but I look deep. It never seems that the stars are what I am looking for. I am always seeking for answers to questions I lack the words to ask. That moment, when my eyes are fully adjusted to the dark and the stars are crisp and vibrant, my attention undeterred, I always ask the question of why I’m here and who we, as humans, are. Teasingly, the answer can’t be obtained by simply looking up. No, I have to go deeper than just scratching the surface. The universe wouldn’t be vast if it wasn’t meant to be explored. I have to look from the outside in at myself, as if I were floating aimlessly in space. Seeing the stars, fiery balls of gas millions of light years away, a distant too far to fathom, I ponder. Are we alone? Are we unique? The mind can only understand so much, and it is impossible to comprehend the idea of others being out there, similar to us in thought, different only in appearance and tongue. Sometimes when I go here, I fear Earth is an island in the midst of a beautiful, volatile medium, alone, afraid, and always searching in vain. Most of the time I see the stars as beacons, beckoning us to come forth and become voyageurs, to set open our sails against the solar wind, knowing only what we seek, seeking only what we do not know. I pierce into the night, my mind as turbulent and explosive as the stars I see.

The only thing stopping me from watching the stars up on the hill forever is what I am looking into. The tick of a clock and the stroke of the hour hand are weights added to my feet as I nearly breach the surface: understanding. Every time I turn to leave, I spot a glint in the corner of my eye, a star no longer beckoning us humans to explore it, but me alone. Being a siren, the star is something I must learn to resist when time is up. I must plug my ears; fill them with molten wax, to drown away the song no one can pass up, and peel my eyes to the blasé, starless ground below. I walk slowly down the hill, now. My hands are shoved in to my pockets, my eyes stuffed in front of a mind that can never answer what my imagination questions. The further away I walk from my place of meditation, the more I lose what I have learned. What it is I have learned is not to be shared with words, but with showing. It is more than finding God the night of my soul and far greater than posing scientific paradoxes. The closer I get to my home, the more I forget the feeling. Night is sanguine when the stars and the planets are out, and it is that in which I feel. I cannot walk away with what I learn. I learn it while I am at the hill, but, once I leave, it slips away, a statue of marble turned to black, heartless sand. Every time I visit the hill I relearn it in a different manner. I am compelled to return solely so I can reacquire it. Days go by that I cannot visit the mount of yearning. But with each day that passes, with each phase of the moon and the steady movement of the planets across the expanding horizon, I move too, shaped by what I discover there, defined by how I use it.





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