Day and Night

While out for a quick morning run today I found myself thinking about how profoundly we must all be affected by the basic diurnal rhythm that marks our lives.  Day and night, day and night, day and night.

How does each of us conceive of and experience day and night … seemingly opposed, yet eternally conjoined?  And how does our conception affect our experience … and vice versa, of course?  Is black and white dualism something that is embedded in our psyches .. or a cultural construct with racist underpinnings?

No answers here … just questions and musings, I’m afraid.

I remember being mildly afraid of … but also fascinated by … the dark.  My mother told scary stories and read a scary poem or two, as we were growing up.  The dark was a place that held surprise and mystery … ghosts, goblins … strange sounds and rustlings … and later, scary people.

In my childhood household it also, through the years, held lots of noise and fighting … sturm und drang.  I remember many sleepless nights … too often right before a big test or a basketball game that I was trying to rest up for.  So the night held, often, a kind of nervous anticipation of the next day.

Once I was out on my own, the night was a time of searching conversation, writing, relaxation … a small, daily “vacation” from work … or whatever tasks the day held.  The night could also be a time of seering loneliness or aloneness … depending on circumstance and (as I’ve learned) choice.

The light of day brings a different energy entirely.  Task-oriented and, to all appearances, grounded in solid reality, daylight lets us see what’s around us.  There are fewer surprises during the day.  No weird sights or sounds from the depths of the psyche … just bustle and accomplisment.

Even as I write this, I can tell that the day doesn’t interest me as much as the night.  That doesn’t mean I’m a brave explorer of the dark … but it’s compelling to me (even tho’ I grab my flashlight and check the batteries before heading into the mysteries of the night)!

To know the dark

To go in the dark with a light is to know the light.

To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight,

and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings,

and is travelled by dark feet and dark wings.

Wendell Berry

On another note … rather disturbingly … I see in the Washington Post that quite a few Tea Baggers are visiting Williamsburg this summer.  That’s not in itself disturbing … but apparently they are looking for leadership from the Founding Fathers by asking questions of the actors portraying Washington, Jefferson, et al.  Here’s a taste of the scene down there in VA …

… they shout out about the tyranny of our current government during scenes depicting the nation’s struggle for freedom from Britain.

“General, when is it appropriate to resort to arms to fight for our liberty?” asked a tourist on a recent weekday during “A Conversation with George Washington,” a hugely popular dialogue between actor and audience in the shaded backyard of Charlton’s Coffeehouse.

Standing on a simple wooden stage before a crowd of about 100, the man portraying Washington replied: “Only when all peaceful remedies have been exhausted. Or if we are forced to do so in our own self-defense.”

The tourist, a self-described conservative activist named Ismael Nieves from Elmer, N.J., nodded thoughtfully. Afterward, he said this was his fifth visit to Colonial Williamsburg.

“We live in a very dangerous time,” Nieves said. “People are looking for leadership, looking for what to do. They’re looking to Washington, Jefferson, Madison.”

“I want to get to know our Founding Fathers,” he added. “I think we’ve forgotten them. It’s like we’ve almost erased them from history.”

It’s a common point of view among tea party activists. They say their unhappiness with Washington reflects how far the federal government has strayed, through taxation and regulation, from the Founders’ intentions.

“They all should come here and listen,” said Bob Rohrbacher, a retired plumber from Floral Park, N.Y., who opposes President Obama and was inspired to visit Williamsburg while watching Glenn Beck on Fox News. “They’ve forgotten about America.”

Were these elementary school students studying the Revolutionary War for the first time I could, perhaps, understand.

But these are adults looking for “answers” about the big problems of the day.

No wonder these same people are also drawn to the guy with Nazi-Tourette’s and she-whose-name-shall-remain-unmentioned-but-whose-daughter-is-now-UNengaged!

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