Silent darkness is my friend

YourLifeChoices’ 91-year-old columnist Peter Leith, describes himself as “half-deaf and half-blind” but admits the ‘half’ is an optimistic description. He shares his world.

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In my childhood, kids were almost taught to be afraid of the dark. Threats of the ‘bogeyman’, the ‘bunyip’ and ‘things that went bump in the dark’ – common ways to scare children into obedience, silence and even, going to sleep! Even our churches referred to the Devil as the ‘Prince of Darkness’.

Darkness was threatening. Darkness was bad!

In the high-tech era of today, bright artificial illumination is everywhere – the brighter the better – and silence is, almost, prohibited. Even when we are walking down a busy street, we have our smartphone playing music in our ear to drown out the traffic noise!

Many people, even if they are not actually afraid of silence and darkness, are nervous and more cautious when they cannot see or hear clearly. Then, when vision is limited, hearing often becomes more important and it, too, can be, and often is, a source of heightened nervousness and even fear. 

Eyes and ears strain to identify shapes and sounds that might warn of threats and dangers. Of all our senses, vision and hearing are right up there among the hardest workers. Even when we sleep our hearing continues to work.

For all the people who are either (or both) vision and hearing impaired, the effort to see and hear is never-ending and exhausting.

Even if one cannot hear well, common courtesy demands that we pretend. Asking people to repeat almost every word and sentence is unfair and frustrating for them, so we must learn to smile, nod and pretend that we understand much more than we really do.

Lying awake in the dark silence of the night can be, and often is, a friendly, calming and relaxing experience.

It allows us to stop our ceaseless, wearisome, frustrating efforts to identify shapes and ‘decode’ sounds – because there are none! There is nothing to see or hear. We are not constantly reminded of our deficiencies. Everything is dark, silent and peaceful.

Silent darkness levels the playing field.

Do you have a story or an observation for Peter? Send it to [email protected] and put ‘Sunday’ in the subject line.

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Related articles:
https://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/the-cubby-house
https://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/dunny-lane
https://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/demise-of-the-lovable-larrikin

Written by Peter Leith

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