One Dark Night

You’re out wandering on a dark night of the soul in a thin, cold drizzle. You’re not sure of your directions. Your sneakers are wet, your feet are cold, your wind breaker is too thin. You never should have come here.

Why did you come here? The lights are out and the buses have stopped running. You wander and wander, searching for a familiar face, always turning the wrong corner.

You’re walking around and you’re saying to yourself You see, this is what I am. If I had been smarter, bigger, richer, luckier, could carry a tune, had one less mole, better shoes, a different name, a faster car, a tip on the fifth race, more reliable friends, it could have been different but, you see, this is it this is it, this is how it is

The thing that eventually pulls you back home is the sound of a human voice, or the touch of a human hand. Perhaps, on the dark night of the soul, you’d been imagining you were friendless and alone.

“Never mind”, says the voice, “come out of the cold…come into the kitchen, and we’ll talk about pleasanter things”. You recognize that voice as the voice of the Other.

Once in the bright light of the kitchen, chopping vegetables, listening to the radio, or toasting bread in the buttery morning light, the world begins to look like a more cheerful place. There is food to nourish you, conversation to make you feel connected.

The Other can speak of things beyond our imagining, yet her words are plain, unpretentious, and practical as a bowl of stew. The Other knows about garlic. The Other shuffles about in slippers and sings off-key hymns and zaps you with static electricity. The Other comes at you from odd directions, swims through your dreams, wears disguises, quotes Shakespeare and Monty Python. The Other vanishes in Prague and turns up again in Montreal wearing a ridiculous hat. The Other puts on amusing amateur theatrical productions, plays scrabble in long underwear, sells Girl Guide cookies, eats mandarin oranges, does the bum dance, pierces his nose, does a wheelie in her wheelchair, misplaces his car keys. The Other snores in her sleep and farts in the dark. The Other curls up under the kitchen table while a pot of coffee slowly simmers on a crackling wood stove.

The Other talks in riddles, says this is life. This is a dream. This is life. The trick is to recognize it when you see it. The trick is to adjust your eyes to the light. See it.

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