A continuation of the journey that began on January 1, 2010, recorded in "a year of getting up to meet the day." After 365 consecutive sunrise outings in that year, I couldn't bear to give up the dawn. This blog (no longer daily) will be informed and inspired by the rising light of the morning sun.


Monday, September 19, 2011

the dark side

sunrise:  6:19

I recently read a magnificent book, John Steinbeck's magnum opus, "East of Eden."  My measure of a great book is one that lingers in my mind for weeks, cropping up in multiple contexts because of its relevance to so many aspects of the human experience.  This was one of those.

The most intriguing idea in this story is man's struggle to be good, even when tendrils of evil threaten to twine around his heart.  Are we born with our fate, good or evil, stamped upon us by genetic pre-determination?  The hopeful conclusion of Steinbeck's book is that everyone may choose - regardless of genetic make-up or life circumstance.  But even more worthy of thought is the idea that many people...all people?...have a dark side, somewhere, with which they must contend.

Some call it the devil, some call it our animal nature, but I think it is there is all of us.  There are those who fight so mightily to mask the dark side underneath that they end up living a fraudulent double life - the Jekyll and Hyde type.  There are some (Stephen King comes to mind) who lasso it and use it to their advantage, and many others who are seek release through the vicarious actuation of evil in books, movies, video games.  Others deny it entirely and refuse to engage a thought about it, but I don't buy that outlook a bit.

I think many human fears are not actually fears of the outside world, but fears of their own lurking darker self, which they project onto others.  We would do best, I believe, to put our battles out in the open.  If we deny the existence of something, it is much harder to face, harder to fight, easier to fear.  The most triumphant characters in Steinbeck's book were those who acknowledged their flaws and failings, and continued in humility -- and gratitude for the choice -- to strive to be good.  That is the bottom line; keep on trying, believing you have the choice, and you never allow the badness to gain a foothold.

Among the many virtues of the sunrise is that it is a time that does not invite the dark side.  It is all hope and light and fresh starts.  It's a good way to dive back in and wage the battle anew.


My sister visited last week, which was wonderful.  She had never seen this late, fluffy phase of cattail life. so I thought I'd share a photo.  It seems likely that it was this phase that gave the plant its name.

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