The Dark Night of the Soul

Some time ago, I realized that I often give my best, and sometimes my very worst, to complete strangers in those brief “no expectations beyond this moment” moments, when we have nothing to lose, nothing to prove, or disprove, or defend. No image to project or protect. Why? Perhaps it’s the belief that 'this' will end shortly that is so freeing that our masks just slip off. But, why?

Do we feel more free to show our best self, even our 'true' self, to complete strangers because of the lack of long-term expectations? What does that say about us as a species and our ability to love one another? To have healthy relationships? True, honest, open relationships, because this is who I am and I hope you can love me. I trust that you will love me. I want you to love me. So, why is it so hard to reveal - me?

From the moment we are born the kaleidoscope begins to spin, and with each turn we are transformed into something that contains all the components of the original, but different. Another version, if you will, as the world around you begins to mold you into something that meets the worlds' expectations of you. Every facet of who we are is formed by the parts of this world that we are subjected to by chance, circumstance, and even fate. We learned to adapt to our surroundings.

In fact, we became so adept at adapting, that there is a version of you for every person and circumstance that you have ever encountered. Because of this, no two people know the same version of ‘you’. The ‘you’ that showed up for work is not the ‘you’ that left your house twenty minutes ago. The ‘you’ that took herself to church last Sunday is not the ‘you’ that cussed out the cashier on Saturday. The ‘you’ that your spouse knows is not the ‘you” your children know, your parents know, your siblings and friends know, and most certainly none of them know the ‘you’ that you believe you are based on your own inner beliefs.

You’ve heard the phrase “she wears a lot of hats”, well, this world trained us to wear a lot of masks. That’s a lot to digest, I know, which is why most never realize just how fragmented we have become; because we have become so adept at changing our masks. We wear a lot of masks now.

And all along we believe that we still hold on to the original, we still know who “I am”. Until that moment something wakes you up, some event or series of events that makes you question everything, but especially, yourself. When you realize you’ve been in survival mode for so long you can’t even find peace within yourself. When you realize that you’ve been adapting to the environments, situations, and the people around you for so long that somewhere along the way you lost your “self”. Suddenly, the act of wearing even one mask becomes too much, too exhausting, so you begin to isolate. 

This world doesn’t like that so it begins to label you. Anti-social; perhaps. Depressed; maybe a little, and why wouldn’t you be in this moment? The moment when you realize you’ve allowed external forces to live your life for you. Introverted; absolutely, but it’s not introversion, it's introspection, and the world doesn’t understand that because we’ve been trained to live our lives not from the inside out, but from the outside in. You can not live from the inside out when you have no real sense of who you really are, and what you want from this life, absent all those outside influences. With that realization you’ll find yourself catapulted into what is commonly known as 'The Dark Night of The Soul'. 

It is within this dark night of the soul that you begin to identify and remove your masks. You go in search of your true self. As it turns out, that process is time consuming, and quite addictive, and you begin to crave more alone time to do just that. When you open the door to the dark night of the soul, you are greeted by the Hermit. The Hermit leads you down the pathway, shining a light on the dark places. Slowly peeling back the layers of darkness that conceal ‘you’. 

If you’re brave enough to look into the darkness that is within you, you’ll begin to see your own light, and the Hermit's guidance is no longer needed. It is now that the Hermit presents you to the Magician, and if you are willing to listen to the Magicians’ teachings, you’ll learn the magic that is ‘you’. The magic that exists in this realm and how to harness that. He teaches us to transmute, to transform, to create and recreate. 

The Magician shows you the things that have shaped you from a new perspective so you can understand how it happened and why it played out that way. You’ll recognize the lessons learned and how you decided to use those lessons. Did you use them for your betterment, or to your detriment? Eventually, if you take off enough masks, peer into enough dark places, you’ll find ‘You’. The ‘you’ that is imperfectly perfect and always was, is, and will be. 

At the end of this leg of the journey you’ll find that you have become the very thing this world has warned you against being, the very essence of each of us when we first entered this realm; The Fool. If you’re really, really lucky, you’ll realize the value and power of The Fool. You see, the Fool resides in the void, in which there are no absolutes, only possibilities and opportunities. The Fool represents new beginnings, having faith in the future, not knowing what to expect but believing in the universe. Innocence, originality, spontaneity. The Fool represents us in our youth walking joyfully into the world. The Fool is exuberant, joyful, excited. The Fool worries not. The Fool walks, he leaps, in faith.

And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it.” - Roald Dahl

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