Here in the subarctic north, our daylight hours are now at their zenith. For my local area, that means that sunset is at 11:38 p.m. and sunrise is at 3:39 a.m. That’s four hours of “darkness,” sort of. The dark we get is actually quite twilight-ish. I have spent time further north where there’s no darkness at all, but as I get older I find myself more sensitive to that.
From now on, our daylight hours will become shorter and shorter until we reach the December 21 solstice, when the sun will rise at 10:07 a.m. and set at 3:04 p.m.
We are very much governed by light. The fading of light, the darkness, can cause us to hunker down, to contract in on ourselves as we protect ourselves from the perceived dangers inherent in the darkness.
But the same is true of too much light; it’s just in the obverse. Light-induced insomnia that leads to a loss of mental acuity and a sort of stunned passivity is equally as dangerous. We can all recognise when someone is suffering from spring and/or summer insomnia. The dazed, stupefied stare is enough.
But darkness gets a very bad rap. It represents danger, evil, and malevolence while light represents purity, freedom, and clarity.
They both have their drawbacks and delights. The winter solstice means that there are great winter celebrations and gatherings and invigorating coolness while the light means that there’s warmth and green plants and lovely sun-soaking.
I think that people are the same. We have both dark and light, and neither is completely good or bad. They act in a complex tandem interplay, creating velvety shadows or glaring light. One without the other?
Then there’s no beauty. We need them together in their symbiotic interdependence.