Is This A Dark Night of the Soul?

My blog posts are created and stored in one long Word document. When I reopen the document to write a new post, I receive a prompt that says, “Pick up where you left off.” If I click that prompt, it scrolls down to the last post I edited. All I have to do is hit the return button and write the next post.

Today, on the anniversary of 9-11, with the Delta variant of the coronavirus surging through the nation, with children returning to an uncertain school year, with political battles raging, it feels hard to “pick up where you left off,” when you can’t even figure out where that spot is.

The world looks like a different place every morning I wake up. It’s getting harder and harder to just “keep going.” I’m feeling a lot of “why bother” and “who cares” and “what’s the difference.” It’s not healthy, I know. I’m more tired than ever and my stomach hurts most of the time. I know if I could let go of some of the stress, anger, resentment, disillusionment, and worry, I’d feel physically better. If I could rediscover joy, I’d feel happier, wiser, and more creative. If I could find faith again, I’d feel more motivated, ambitious, and strong. I thought the solution was to “stay in the now,” but the now is a pretty sucky place these days. I think I’d rather pretend I’m back on my six-week trip to Ireland in 2018 or imagine I’m in a future where all of this is behind us and we’ve somehow moved on.

If I scroll up through this long Word document, I see 375 blog posts written over seven and a half years filled with inspiration, motivation, encouragement, creativity, and lots of love. That’s what I’ve come to expect from myself when I write these posts and that’s what you’ve come to expect when you read them. But today I’m facing my own artist version of the “dark night of the soul,” wondering if this is all really meaningless. There’s actually a sense of release and relief in that thought. Permission to walk away from toiling so hard at writing and everything else I’ve devoted my career to for 30 years. I hope this really is a dark night of the soul, because my understanding of the modern interpretation of that term means I get to emerge on the other side a new person with a deeper sense of purpose and connectedness with something larger than myself.

I always thought the dark night of the soul would be a lonely place, but it’s not. I have many creative friends who seem to be sitting in the darkness with me. I like to think of us all joining hands and walking into whatever new daybreak awaits together. If we all come through this with a greater sense of purpose and connectedness, think how much better the world will be. We won’t pick up where we left off, we’ll start a whole new document.

By Teresa R. Funke

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