The Human Abyss

Darkness . . . it is one of our earliest childhood fears.  I can remember many a night, laying there, covers clutched tight beneath my chin, fearful of what lurked in the shadows.  It wasn’t so much the fear of the unknown, or what could have been there in the room with me, but what was.  Long, black masses stretched from floor to ceiling and inched across the walls, their limbs twisting like gnarled branches in a storm.  These silent wraiths would visit nightly, and each time the light went out, I held my breath and shuddered with fearful anticipation.

There is a delicate balance in this world.  Our time is measured with one part light and one part dark.  The sun and moon engage in a graceful tango, their dance one that creates forces of great destruction like gravity.  Falling stars may be beautiful, but what about the tidal waves that surge past the shores?  Human nature is even less defined, for each of us holds the same capacity for good as we do evil . . . at least at birth.  And, I think, to be truly honest, each of us has, at one time or another, had an ugly or cruel thought flitter through or mind, no matter how fleeting.

Sure I’m afraid of evil clowns, of aliens and spiders, of demons and vengeful spirits.  Most of us are.  But what exceeds that fear, what lingers at the top of my list evoking unease at all hours is the fear of humankind.  We, as a species, possess the capacity to inflict the most harm.  It is the people without conscience and morals who pose the most danger.  The cold-blooded killers who walk among us, many of them undetected until it is far too late.  Jack the Ripper, BTK, the Green River killer, Ted Bundy . . . the list goes on and on.

In today’s society, in these brutal times we live in, horror writers need not depend on mythological creatures to scare.  We need not create fictional monsters who are indestructible.  The truth is: they walk among us, every day.  Some walk the thin line between dark and light . . . some grasp that fragile rope between good and evil by only a single thread.  Their lifeline is frayed and one never knows when it will snap.

But even they serve some purpose.  They remind us life is uncertain.  People are uncertain.  Nothing should be taken for granted.  Beyond inspiration and fear, they prove darkness and light can exist within each one of us as well.  One cannot exist, nor be fully appreciated without the other.  Our choices can and do impact others.

There is a Nietzsche quote that I think most of us have heard.  ““He who fights monsters must take care lest he become a monster. When you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss gazes into you.”

I, myself, am also fond of this one:  “There is always some madness in love. But there is also always some reason in madness.”

I leave you to ponder these words with the hopes that they inspire.  Take care, my friends . . . and be careful not to gaze into the abyss for too long!