The Darkness before the Dawn

It was January 1991. The first Gulf War had officially begun, and my small college campus was blanketed with a sobering silence.

We were gathered for a required student assembly in a large auditorium, waiting to be bored. One of the professors, who had spent his recent sabbatical in Romania during their revolution, walked out onto the stage carrying the new Romanian flag—it had a hole in it where the symbol of the overthrown communist government had been cut out. He described his visit to Romania as a thrilling time, because he witnessed the light turn on in people’s eyes. Upon his return to the U.S., he was saddened to see far fewer people who were fully engaging their lives with passionate gratitude and too many people seemed to take for granted our freedoms.  He said he hoped that as Americans we would allow the conflict overseas to relight the fire inside us.

His face grew somber as he spoke wise words, “Sometimes it has to get really dark for us to see the little spark of light that is going to bring about positive revolutionary change.” He paused, and then yelled, “It’s always darkest before the dawn!”

All the lights went out in the grand theatre. There were low, nervous whispers and then…a spark of light.

A familiar song, Dueling Banjos, began playing. With each banjo twang, little lights flashed on the stage in a visual back and forth duel. One by one, we each recognized that the little lights were penlights.  Two of our campus’s biggest comedians had stuck penlights up their noses, and were flickering their nostrils to the music. By the end of the song the whole audience was screaming with laughter. Our beloved professor’s words inspired us to live passionately despite life’s circumstance, and the laughter shook loose some of the uncertainty we had about current world events.

Renowned new thought author Carolyn Myss gives an insightful perspective of change in our lives. She says to imagine that your angel is standing next to you and keeps hearing you promise yourself things, such as “I will start a new fitness program today” or “I will get out of this unhealthy stressful job and find my dream job”. When we break the promises with excuses like “tomorrow is a better day to start doing my new yoga routine” or  “they really need me at my job, I’ll just help them for a few more weeks”, Myss says it’s a betrayal of ourselves.

She goes on to theorize that the angel listens patiently and then one day says something like, “Ok, that’s the 100th time she has said she is going to go after her dream job, so she has 30 days to do it, and then I am going to help her”. Thirty days go by and we get fired or sick and have to take time off work. What looks like crisis to us, is actually a window of opportunity to change the thing we have been saying we would do. I believe this may be why I was laid off from my “day job” last December–so I would focus on my dream of publishing my novel. 🙂

Whenever we’re experiencing a crisis or major change, it might be wise to reflect on our thought patterns and decide if we are focused on worry or embracing growth. No matter what, my professor taught me that it is vital to maintain a sense of humor to weather the storms of life. Thinking of the laughter that filled the student assembly that morning still brings a smile to my face.

“…it’s always darkest before the dawn…shake it out, shake it out!” (Shake It Out, Florence + The Machine)

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