I was trying to write an essay on what darkness means to me, but haven't been able to pull it together very coherently. I'd like to know what others think though, so I'm posting what I have.
What Darkness means to me.
When I think about what darkness means to me, it comes with recognizing, up front, a lot of things people seem to ignore or gloss over in life. You can't create without participating in destruction. You don't learn unless you go into the unknown. You should always keep your wits about you. Comfort is for healing, but if you are comfortable too long there is a good chance you aren't growing.
For me, a penchant for darkness is partly the recognition that destruction is an integral part of any creation. This has been echoed throughout much of human history. For instance, if you are from an Abrahamic religion, the creation story starts with everything being undifferentiated (formless). The 2nd great act of the creation story is the destruction (separation) of this (Quran 21:30, Genesis 1:2-4), so that everything else can be created from the pieces.
We can see in the light, we know what's there. For most this is what makes it comfortable, and even preferable for some. The dark is where things go unseen, and are unknown. When you need safety and a place to rest, by all means go into the metaphorical light and familiar surroundings. But, when you have your strength about you, and it's time to seek knowledge or to create something you have to enter the metaphorical darkness. You have to be willing to have your notions about how things work damaged or destroyed. You have to sully the white canvas to paint on it.
Nietzsche warned, "He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you." You can take this either as an admonition against staring into an abyss, or you can take it to mean that until you face the monster within, you can't take charge of it and direct it in positive ways. When faced with tragedy or strife, you can let it be an agent of destruction, or you can funnel it, over time, into an agent of creation. If you don't face it though, there is little chance of being able to intentionally use it for anything.
There are dangers in the unknown and things sometimes do go bump in the night. While it may be understandable why some associate the dark with evil (muggers and their ilk seem apt to operate after night fall), somehow they missed seeing the evil done in full daylight. If you let this shape your whole life, then you'll have your doors locked at sunset and spend most of your time in a pretty cage you've made for yourself. Even so, you can make yourself a comfortable cage in the dark also, and that should be avoided as well.
Every time I go into the darkness and spark a torch to light the way, I just hear the next shadow calling me. It's the journey that keeps me going; destination unknown.