by Jeremy Cooper
“The Sound of Silence”, by Disturbed, leads many to ponder what they have just listened to. Take a listen to the song and perhaps read along with the lyrics.
Follow me on a thought journey through the song…
Think through darkness and think through it being an old friend. In simply thinking of darkness, I imagine much more of yourself became involved than simply the idea. Darkness invokes a deep place in our being, a place of depth that is often laden with cobwebs.
Explore the felt sense of darkness and be mindful of the voice that tells you to hold back. Imagine for a moment that this song could speak of just you. There is a resistance to think that any part of us would want to hold back, change course, or want to abandon ship. That very phrase “burn the ship” invokes this notion that whatever we are about to do, there is no turning back; a point of no return. And yet, we often feel an inner struggle between who we say we are and what we are accomplishing.
Perhaps what we are hesitant to touch is what lies in that darkness. It’s as if you are shouting for someone to hear you, and no one can. You try to speak out to whomever will listen, to come near you and show compassion, but instead it stays inside and eats away at you. Perhaps this song was meant to speak for society, for our close dear ones, or perhaps it speaks to what we are not willing to acknowledge.
Go back to your old friend -- how could they be your old friend? How could a space that holds so much fear, anger, shame, guilt, worry, and disappointment be dear to you? To call darkness an old friend is entirely paradoxical. In fact, go survey a crowd of people and watch their reactions when you mention this song. We have a drive that prevents us from acknowledging that darkness. Be curious about what motivates you to push past the darkness. All these things are worth noting and worth exploring.
There is not a place within you that is just a void, a black hole. Each space within you is a place of meaning and substance, a place that can turn to motivation. Perhaps darkness is more of a comrade than a friend -- someone who has joined alongside you through the journey. Now you must recognize the comrade that has been there all along.
In her book Entering Night Country: Psychoanalytic Reflections on Loss and Resilience, Stephanie Brody explores what it is like to tread into that darkness. The night country, as she calls it, is the liminal. The liminality is a “transitional space”, a space between space and time through which, by means of the therapeutic relationship, two entities can cross through a boundary that is both of ourselves inwardly, and new to our awareness. In this liminality we gain the opportunity to suspend preconceived notions, space, time, expectations, and journey back in time while also holding on to our awareness. It is the innate ability to listen and hear all the “contradictory realities” and turn it into a coherent sense of self. To feel as if you were many, yet still one self. This process, how ritual-esque, sheds light on our own capacity to go to and from our different experiences and metabolize them into one singular experience.
So, when those moments come to you in the fright of night, in the quiet whisper behind you, or when you feel it inside you, I urge you to ponder curiously. Invoke the courage to wonder more about that voice. This is a journey for self, but it does not to have to be by yourself. Find others that can go with you as you journey toward what might be in the darkness.