The Dark Side

Contrary to sporadic outbreaks of facebook kitsche, the Dark side does not in fact have cookies.

Let me be clear. Hell is hell. It is a real place full of real monsters and it has a real presence in reality.

Bear with me, I’m not tying bottle rockets to my makeshift pulpit. I just want to give you something that transcends the chaos, dear artist. Because you, by your desire and gift to illuminate and magnify all that is what ever it is about the human condition—you are susceptible to joining the dark side and never coming back to the light.

What am I getting at? Well I’m gonna make you think for yourself here about your influences, your inspirations—musicians, artists, writers who resonate with you and even those things which you yourself pen or draw or choreograph.

There is a mindset that beauty born from pain is relevant, lasting, and deep. And those things which are lighthearted, bouncy, are perhaps vapid and destined to disappear like so much happy unicorn glitter. Ephemera evaporates. Blood congeals. And most humans are more prone to slow down and ogle a car accident than they are to contemplate a rainbow.

Unfortunately, for the artist, there is real danger in that.

You see, many of us with a creative bent actually lived the whole “beauty from pain” bit. We can and do write books about it. We lived with demons in parent skin or sibling skin or the skin of someone who should have nurtured us but instead destroyed parts of our lives with whatever horror available to them to mete out on us. And in order to purge what we couldn’t digest, we wrote the pain. We danced the anger, the loss. We drew the blood in dark ink. And we lived it again, and relived it. And it became a part of us until we too lived in the darkness. Absorbing the abuse, the neglect, until it became us. And we perpetuated the chaos we so desperately wanted to escape.

Why? Because in the very act of validation we so desperately crave we allow it to become our muse, and then our identity.

Dear artist, your gift is there so you can heal.

Your talent to write exists so you can purge the monster and move on. Your story should help others perhaps not so eloquent to understand that not only are they not alone, but that there is beauty and light and joy beyond the pain of broken, of abuse, of neglect, of addiction, of slavery. Expose the darkness—and then kill it. Allow your gift to heal you, and then use it to heal others.

This is where the real power of “artist” lies. When we dance in the light, when we pen the victory, when the palette reveals the rich tones of life, when we offer hope…

When I pass from this place, sure, there are a few things I’ve written that may make my family cringe a little. I’m a faulted human. But after generations of creative souls lost to the dark side, not only did I step into the light with my gift, but my grown children are taking their creativity further. That’s a win. That is what you deserve.

Tammy Boehm, Associate Editor