Muses to Inspire Creativity

A Treatise on the Light

A Return to Joy After Walking the Dark Road Alone

By Molly J. Anderson-Childers | Updated September 12, 2018

When I was in speech and drama classes or clubs in high school and college, I had a couple of really intense years with a focus on the arts, including a drama class. It's a lot of fun to get up on stage or on the radio and just go for it. But boy, is it ever SCARY! Talk about an adrenaline rush — the dramatic intensity of it all, being emotionally naked in front of an audience as I lost myself in the character of Viola in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, mourning my lost brother, and falling in love. It was one of the most terrifying, insanely thrilling experiences in my life. It was definitely scary, but also a lot of fun. A roller-coaster ride for the soul.

Of course, as I discussed in A Treatise on the Dark: Muse of Shadows, my tastes can run to the dramatic, and I do enjoy traveling in the scary and dark places of the heart. But, as I soon discovered, my soul also yearns for the light — a balance of joy and pain, happiness and sorrow, laughter and bitter tears.

Why do people like to be scared? Horror movies are extremely popular in our country, as are violent and scary video and computer games. It seems that there's nothing like a good scare! The Craft, a great, dark comedy film about teenage witches is one of my OTHER halloweeny-type movie favorites.

Why do people like to be scared? Riddle me THAT. Author/rock star Stephen King outsells every other author every time he puts out a new book. (And I'm first in line to buy it, every time!) It seems like horror movies are getting scarier, too — as well as increasingly violent. Some of them are so disturbing that even I, Queen of Dark Realms, cannot bear to watch. I can manufacture my own nightmares, thank you. I don't need any help. But yet these movies are always rented or sold out at the stores, and are also very popular online.

As Rupert Murdoch could attest, Fear Sells. And the American people are buying. Why? It seems to me like people like to read about horror/sci-fi because they know that a scare they get from a book or a film is a "safe" scare. They are almost guaranteed a happy ending. Even if it's not a happy ending, they can still leave the theatre laughing and saying, "That was scary, but it wasn't real. It was just a movie. Did you see the monster, he looked so fake, ha ha."

A good scary movie, or the new Stephen King thriller, is also a controlled and controllable scare. If it gets too frightening, you just put the book away, or leave the theatre, etc. In real life, one cannot do this. And our country, this twenty-first century time bomb, is a pretty scary place to live sometimes. I'll say no more!

Embroiled in my own dark times, grieving my mother's loss, I discovered that I yearn more than ever for laughter, joy — a light romantic comedy instead of the latest Eli Roth torture-fest. Darkness and light tango together, side by side, intertwined like lovers. It is a balance. Darkness calls to light, yearns for it, as light calls to the dark side, the shadow side, attracts it and dances with it, my heart craves a balance.

I honor my dark side, but I also see so much beauty, so much light in the work I do and in the world itself. I live in the mountains. It is a beautiful place that I have made my home. I love laughter and bunnies and kittens and I spend my days with really cool kids (I coordinate an after-school program) who are always making me cute art projects. Today a girl named Amelia drew me a picture of fairies. They call me Miss Molly and hug me if I am having a bad day — and I love it!

I love funny movies as well as the dark scary ones. Stephen King has a place on my bookshelf, but so does the work of SARK, fabulously funny cartoonist Gary Larson of The Far Side fame, the comix of Lynda Barry, The Wonder Spot by Melissa Banks, and the newest Alice Hoffman novel, magical realism that will sweep me away into a modern fairy tale. I can't get enough of The Simpsons, ditto Edward Scissorhands, The Brothers Grimm, Moonstruck, Say Anything, and yes I will admit it, When Harry Met Sally. (Talk about a fairy tale — that great guy who tortured you with platonic friendship for years finally decides you're fabulous and proposes marriage!)

How is all this possible, such limitless resources of both light and dark, such a mixture? I wonder sometimes at all of this inside me, and I know I was meant to do bold, great, and lovely things with my work, my words. I inspire people, and make them mad with bone-hard truths spat into their faces, and give them too much darkness, enough for a thousand midnights. I show them beauty, show them hot passion and lust and rage, and all the treasures of a truly gracious heart.

I will make you see a scar where there was no scar, a bloody line etched into flesh. And then I will make it beautiful, make it shine. Not a scar at all, but a butterfly tattoo, or a peacock perched atop a sand castle, or maybe even my tattoo, a raven-feather quill and a fat little ink-pot, tipped on its side and pulsing slow thick blue ink onto the blank page of my flesh.

I still remember the gentle artist who needled it into my skin nine years ago, elaborating on a design drawn by my brother to honor my love of writing. Writing this missive, written as the day draws down towards the longest night of the year, I honor my shadow side, and yearn for a return to the light. That great joy will be mine at dawn, when I know in my heart that light will return to the world; that the nights will be shorter now, and they will grow shorter still, until it is festival season again and summertime is here!

Next Muse: The Dancing Stones at Cornwall

©2008 Molly J. Anderson-Childers. All rights reserved.