By Pamela Noel
Special to Plumas News
Darkness…I have always enjoyed it…no, not just enjoyed it, but felt most at home in it. As a child I would frequently hide out in one of the drawers of my captain’s bed — open it, climb in after lining it with a cozy blanket, and close out the rest of the world.
My other favorite dark place was the single shelf atop my clothes closet. Building a special custom ladder I nailed it to the inside end of the closet. Allowing me to climb up to the shelf, I then would close the sliding door from my perch.
These dark places were beautiful escapes from everyone and everything. With only imagination as my companion I felt like the queen of my own secret tower, neither seen nor heard by anyone. I could be Annie Oakley, or a moccasin wearing explorer prowling through the woods. Now, as a mother myself, I am certain that my mom knew where I was, but simply allowed me this secret time with to be with myself and my mind’s adventuring.
Darkness feels like safety to me…a comforting cozy place where I can exist without being seen… a place to move about, unnoticed, yet able to observe what is occurring around me. Often moving about the house at night—between my first and second sleep—I wander, looking outside to see what is perambulating through the garden—deer, skunks, dogs, cats, or an occasional bear. Then, back to bed, a little read, and lights out again.
What I have noticed however, is that darkness seems to be disappearing. Seeping into the night from all directions are street lights, neighbors’ porch lights, motion detecting sensors, as well as the electronics, omnipresent in our homes. Stove, smoke alarms, televisions, computers, routers and cell phones constantly notify us of unwanted promotions or messages.
Light pollution is now recognized as contributing to a variety of health issues, interfering with melatonin production, disrupting sleep patterns in both humans and animals, that can result in headaches, anxiety, worker fatigue, and even obesity. Affecting blood pressure, cognition, and even the immune system, it is something worth recognizing and correcting within our home.
Even my sense of touch and sound is accentuated as I wander within my home at night. I “feel” my way to the bathroom, down the hall, and into the kitchen for a drink of water. I “hear” the train moving across the other side of the valley, the sounds of the creek sharing its crystal lapping voice as it flows past the window; the snow letting loose as it sheds itself onto the deck.
It is a private and sacred place…this dark…a place of contemplating life, of meditation, of feeling into the essence of who we are. It’s a time of resting into that experience of selfhood, with limited demands from outside; a time to notice the warmth of the wood stove and reflect in the softer light of the moon. It can become that comfortable place where others’ expectations fall away, and we can rest in what is our true essence—inviting us into a special, undistracted relationship with self, as well as gratitude for who we find in this quiet place.