“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.”

― Mary Oliver

“As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.”

― Carl Jung

“There are different kinds of darkness,” Rhys said. I kept my eyes shut. “There is the darkness that frightens, the darkness that soothes, the darkness that is restful.” I pictured each. “There is the darkness of lovers, and the darkness of assassins. It becomes what the bearer wishes it to be, needs it to be. It is not wholly bad or good.”

― Sarah J. Maas

“It cannot be seen, cannot be felt,

Cannot be heard, cannot be smelt,

It lies behind stars and under hills,

And empty holes it fills,

It comes first and follows after,

Ends life, kills laughter.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien

We are in the midst of a terrible cyclone of conditions:

  • Civid-19 pandemic
  • Enabled racism
  • Economic collapse
  • Rampant unemployment
  • Social injustice impacting the most vulnerable citizens
  • Police violence and mass shootings
  • Polarization of Americans and the decline of civility
  • A country without competent leadership; a country that continues to lose its way.

This is a dark time in our nation’s history, yet darkness is part of the human condition.

Musicians have approached darkness from many different points of view. Here is an exploration of a few renderings in song of the many facets of darkness.


January 5, 2020

Not for sure I’m quite here yet, 
spending time, 
wasting time, 
time seduced by fireworks and frills, 

distraction not being a place, 
a detour, yes, 
a movement smooth and effortless,
away from place and a time notched in meaning. 

Too bad, 
oh too bad this gong of presence is muffled 
in imagined past, and future projection, 
fueled by unctuous schemes and urgencies’ insistent barbs;
unanchored and drifting, 
in the current of lost, 
the waves of losing: 
tactile evidence grounding presence in the world.

Waving the tattered flag of surrender, 
a half-hearted life of neglect:
of discernment of porous beliefs, 
of connections barren and uncultivated, 
sometimes careless, often clueless 
to the ever-changing interdependence,

registering spikes of false confidence,
convinced that
when things go south
it isn’t you.