It’s going to get darker in here

(a not-very-evil writing manifesto)

The truth is I play it safe when I write, especially if I expect someone might read it. Yeah, I admit it. I’m pretty new to this writing stuff, and not many people have read anything I’ve written (I’ve made sure of that). But I often think, what will you (the reader) think? And everything gets censored by the dictatorship of self-consciousness.

Lately I feel like an archaeologist brushing away topsoil, keeping himself busy enough to ignore the fact that he’s too afraid to uncover the stunning dragons that lie deeper. Or a photographer snapping furiously away but resisting going into the darkroom.

I’m hoping the act of writing this and putting it out there will help me remember to try to live up to it. How’s that for a firm commitment.

There is a darkness. (I actually swiped that from the dust jacket of Batman: The Black Mirror.) It is undeniable. The fabric of every life is shot through with it. It wears different masks – grief, sadness, depression, addiction, abuse, anger, hatred and too many more to name.  We like to categorize – I think it makes us feel like we’re doing something.

I’ve always been a student of darkness. Yeah, I’m one of the quiet ones, but I’ve never been a violent soul, thankfully. My strength has been observing.

I’m really good at it.

I’ve seen some things. Experienced some things, too.

Humanity has a truly terrifying streak, more so than any beast or monster or devil. Not an original observation, I realize.

People say you get desensitized to things like sex and violence and human suffering but I think, if you’re lucky or unlucky like me, you don’t. The opposite happens. You don’t become darkness, you don’t get angry, your heart doesn’t weep for the world. You accept the overarching, undeniable reality of darkness, and learn to love every scrap of light you can see. Seeing people shine reminds you it’s the shining that’s remarkable, and not the darkness. Seeing them stand on their own two feet makes gravity bearable. Seeing them give unconditionally to others makes you want to, too.

The fact that people look to the light, that fact that after all you’ve seen you still look to the light, makes you want to be light.

Back to my point. So far I’ve been brushing away topsoil and taking pictures with no intention of developing them. So far I haven’t been ready to tell you about the things I’ve seen, or what I think they mean.

But it’s extremely important.

Important to me, and to one other person. I don’t know who that is, and I might never meet them. But, in this digital age, I have a fantasy that they’ll send me an email (or a text) someday, and say:

“I read something you wrote. Thank you for telling the truth as you saw it. Thank you for finally taking the risk and doing it. You didn’t save me. You provided a rung in the ladder I built to get myself out of that fucking darkness. And that was enough. Really, that was all I needed.”

More likely they’ll say “Tx, ur story was ok”. Whatever.

Thanks, by the way, for all the rungs. See, I made a ladder. I promise from here forward the stories I write will reveal the darkness in which the base of it is planted, and the magnificent view from however far up it I’ve climbed. Maybe some will also be ok.


©2012 Jason Anderson


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