I used to be terrified of the dark.
I was thoroughly convinced the boogeyman existed, and he lived in my attic. As the sun would set, the dark shadows would envelop the door outside my room, and I imagined his glowing eyes waking and staring at me, his teeth bared, and his wicked grin widening in response to my terrified eyes and shortened breath.
And it wasn’t just the attic….underneath my bed held it’s own playground of demons, aliens, and misshaped creatures, who’s tentacles and long fingers would wrap around the edges of my comforter.
Did you ever feel like this?
What did you do to ward off the demons of the night as a child?
My defense was stuffed animals, and I had them on BOTH sides; piled high so no matter where the monsters arose from, I was protected. I would disappear under my sheets, because here it was safe.
Safe from the dark.
While I would love to share this fear fell away as my Barbie’s were sold, it actually dug in.
I remember seeing M. Night Shyamalan’s thriller, Signs, and barely sleeping after seeing it, waking my then-husband in the middle of the night to walk to the bathroom with me.
I was 27.
This fear of the dark stayed with me, for ten more years, until I had to face what the dark was really about for me….loss of control.
At 37, I lost my home, marriage, my car, a dear friend, and many belongings that were stolen.
All of this was out of my control. I felt like I was swirling in a tsunami. I didn’t know who I was anymore…
Who was I without these things?
Mother to be, wife, artist?
I sat face to face with a Zen master and sobbed my deepest question which was hounding my days,
How do you let go?
He looked at me, gently handed me a box of tissues, and asked me the most powerful question,
Are you ok without him?
As if snapped awake from a terrible dream, an energy released in my body. Indeed, I WAS ok. I was sitting here breathing, my basic needs were being taken care of. I was alive.
And something crazy began to happen.
I began to take solace in the dark.
I would come home from a busy day, or a disappointing date, and leave the lights off in my apartment. I would sink down onto the floor and just sit in the dark, the vibrant city alive outside my window…and me, taking a moment.
Turns out there was no boogeyman waiting in my closet, or alien under my bed. This space that once held such fear and uncertainty was now actually comforting.
The dark was just darkness….nothing else. Now that I had realized I am ok within it, I was willing to spend more time there.
Being in a place of not knowing and releasing control actually was HEALING. I had spent so much energy in feeling I had to KNOW every step, control every aspect of my life, and that had only exhausted me, and stolen my ability to show up most powerfully as a performer.
I wanted to believe for the first 37 years of my life that things were permanent….and that I could control that. My year of loss taught me differently. And to be honest? It was a huge relief.
Maybe there was far more magic occurring. What if I took my hands off the wheel and tried something IN PLACE of control….what if I tried TRUST?
Was this what was waiting under the bed for me all along?
What’s waiting for you?
Where do you control in your Art?
What monsters have you convinced yourself are waiting in the dark for you?
What is YOUR dark?
The creative process is full of magic and mystery. And it requires we release control to allow not only the muse, but to enjoy it!
I watch so many Artists stop themselves because they get caught in uncertainty. And trust me, I get it! I could have won a prize for how many times I did this in my professional career. But, the dark was not what I thought it was.
I thought letting go of control would harm me. Instead, it freed me.
Letting go of control freed me to take risks, to play stage roles I could have never played before. Letting go of control freed me to launch a business, build a global fan base, and get back to my childhood love of writing.
What if the uncertainty is actually your gateway to powerful creation?
And if you released control, what would you do differently?
You may peek under your bed and see simple dust balls piling under the bed frame…..and beyond that?
That’s where the real discovery lies.
Photography: Caitlin Cannon Photography