Tuesday, April 7, 2020

A Light In The Darkness 2020

One of my favorite bands, Disturbed, has released their first new studio album in five years, and the new single, “The Light,” turns out to be one of my favorite songs from the album. It also has people talking. The common sentiment seems to be, “A positive song from Disturbed?” While I can understand the hesitation, I can’t really see how anyone who has paid attention to Disturbed’s music over the years can be surprised. Yes, the band has tended to focus on darker themes, but that’s the whole point: “Sometimes darkness can show you the light.”

That theme has underscored much of the music from Disturbed over the years but, for those who don’t do subtle, it has been spelled out quite clearly with the new single. As singer David Draiman explained in an interview premiering the new video (seen below), “I think that people have utilized our music in particular to get them through the difficult periods in their lives, to triumph against adversity, to overcome obstacles. Sometimes you have to go through dark periods in your life in order to find the answer that you need,” and I think that anyone who has been following this blog knows that I believe that as well. You can’t have light without dark. You can’t have dark without light. They define each other.

There is nothing that we go through in life that can’t be used to teach us to be better at life. I am not going to tell you that we go through hardships in order to learn, because I don’t believe that to be true. We go through hardships for many reasons, but mostly just because hardships happen, and we can’t get past them without going through them. The University of Hard Knocks is just a metaphor, and tough times probably aren’t celestial lesson plans laid out with the careful intention of making us better people. Sometimes life just happens. That doesn’t mean that we can’t make use of what just happens though. If we are going to go through hard times anyway, we may as well get something out of them. By learning something from hard times, it may even be possible to transform them into something else, maybe even something better. You’re not going to make life an easy ride, but you can make it easier by learning every lesson available along the way.

It also helps to be more appreciative of the good things, and it is unfortunately true that human beings tend to need some bad things in order to remember the good things. If all we see is good, we tend to take the good for granted. We forget that it is special, and even fragile. We are rather fickle that way. While there can be exceptions, it is generally understood that the person who has to work for everything will appreciate it more than the person who was given everything. There is an entire story archetype centered around this piece of human psychology. One of the lessons we can learn from the darkness is to appreciate the light.

It is not our lot in life to suffer, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Pain is going to happen. Life has thorns and rocks and all sorts of sharp edges and steep cliffs. If you are living life, you are going to come up against these and you are going to get hurt. That’s inevitable. That is not suffering, though. Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional. These are not the Middle Ages and we no longer excuse suffering with an “Oh that’s just the price of being human” fatalism. We fight the darkness, and work to make things better. We don’t give up and we don’t give in. The darkness can serve a purpose, but that purpose is usually subordinate and transient. It can be a stepping stone to greater purpose, but we have to take that step, and move on with purpose.

In the bright light of day, a candle can be invisible. In a darkened room, a candle can be beautiful. Sometimes it is just a matter of perspective. On your darkest days, look for the candles. Those spots of light that can lead you out are the people who have been there and overcome. They are the people who are reaching out with a helping hand. Sometimes they are the people who are right there in the darkness with you, but shining a light through sheer determination and a refusal to give up. A candle’s flame may be small against a spotlight, but that flickering flame has lit our way through most of human advancement. The smallest flame can push back the darkness, and we each have it within ourselves to be that flame.

Sometimes that flame will reveal what you didn’t know know you were missing. We can get so used to seeing things a certain way that it becomes the only way we see things. The way it’s always been done is not necessarily the only or even best way for something to be done. It can be. Don’t throw out the past just because it’s the past, but do be prepared to let go and change if a better way presents itself. If we spend all of our time with the lights on, though, we can only see things from that one perspective and may never learn what other possibilities exist. Try this experiment sometime. Sit in a room with which you are intimately familiar; your office or study, your kitchen, your bedroom, or whatever that might be. You know every inch of that room because you have seen it every day for however long you have been there. Sit in that room and close your eyes. Stay like that for a while and see what changes. Notice the smells and sounds. Walk around and notice the touch. It’s a different perspective, and we need to change our perspective sometimes if for no other reason than to make sure we haven’t overlooked something important.

The simple truth about the darkness is, you have to go through it to get through it. The darkness tends to be stationary, so we have to be mobile. You have to keep moving to get out the other side. You can’t go backward. Life doesn’t work that way. You can sit still or you can move forward. Those are the only options. If you sit still, you will stay in the darkness. If you move forward, you may find the light. It might be just around the next corner, or you may have to feel your way around the blind tunnels for a time. There is absolutely no promise that it will be easy, but you already knew that. If you are reading this, you have almost certainly walked through that darkness before. You may have forgotten, but you already know that you can do it. As the song says, “Don’t let hope become a memory.” Hope can be your candle, and the funny thing about candles is, you can use one to light another and you have lost nothing. One candle can light a million without losing a bit of its light. One candle can ignite an inferno.

I am definitely one of those people that Draiman was talking about. I have turned to the music of Disturbed many times over the years to get through hard times. Sometimes spelling out the darkness is your reminder to fight, and sometimes you have to fight. See it for what it is and let the darkness ignite the fire in you. You’ll be stronger on the other side because of what you have learned and what you have overcome. I know it can be difficult - I’ve been there so many times, myself - but never forget, “sometimes darkness can show you the light.”

Music and Video Copyright 2015 Disturbed.

First posted 12-3-15

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