When he was eight years old, he was frightened of the dark. He imagined groping hands and errant tongues probing him. Eyes wide open he looked for any signs of light. But he liked to challenge himself. Following his father into the darkroom to watch him work, he sat in the corner amazed by how claustrophobic he could make himself feel in the depth of the darkness. Developing film requires absolute darkness, and so he would sit and watch the faces of his nightmares float about in the little room, thrilled by his ability not to scream. In that darkness he felt safe, because his father was there. He could hear him breathing, feel his movements. The door opens, the room floods with light, he counts the minutes before he will be allowed to face his fears again. The darkness taught him how to be brave. The darkness introduced him to himself and taught him to be a man, to be alone, to be strong, to be free.
Today, the darkness is no longer constricting. It is no longer enclosed. Eyes closed, he sheds his skin and can see the universe in its entirety as he stares into the shadows. It is in the darkness that he fully realizes that his skin does not separate him from the world. He is no longer a prisoner of his most powerful sense. The absence of light illuminates the interconnectedness of everything. A timeless landscape reconnects him to his childhood nightmares, now exposed as opportunities for his growth. Although there is no mirror, he can see his own image form and fall apart repeatedly. Tiny blue dots, giving the illusion that a self may or may not exists. In the darkness he is one with everything that has ever been, is, or will be. He smiles as he watches the dots disperse and float away, like so many dying stars, or flagrant ashes, knowing that someday he will dissipate into this very darkness and be reborn as something new.