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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Field Note: The Dark

Published: November 27, 2020

By Mark Seth Lender

A pair of sandhill cranes on an evening flight. (Photo: Mark Seth Lender)

Living on Earth's Explorer in Residence Mark Seth Lender considers how embracing the natural world at night opens up a whole new kind of connection to it.

Everything is different in the dark. More concentrated. Vivid (though perhaps that is a strange word for it). Paradoxically, awake. So much of our information comes through the eyes, everything from proprioception and balance to face recognition and appreciation of the time of day. Take light away, the remaining senses concentrate and come alive.

Night is its own reality, independent of the illusion of control. If you can shelve your terror just enough to enter the woods as night descends and deepens, if you can stop your thoughts just for a little while you can become part of something you are otherwise never privileged to know, that otherwise ejects you from its presence. If you can overcome that need for light which after all is only the need for a sense of security (which in any case is completely false) and share instead in the protective cloak of darkness you too can enter. The world of the Other. Of the Wild.

The ancient Greeks never listed Dark as an element. They should have.

Back to Mark Seth Lender Field Notes


Listen to Mark Seth Lender's essay "The Dark"

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