Running in the Dark, Bats and Bereavement
I find Autumn to be a difficult time of year, observing nature slowly decaying; leaves turning brown and falling off the trees, cloudy days with less sunshine to enjoy, the air turning cold. This is the time of year when I tend to think a lot about family and friends who have died, who have moved into a different dimension of being, lying beyond my own sensory perception.
Now that the days are getting shorter, running in the dark is becoming increasingly part of my everyday existence. When I first began to run in the dark, I was frightened. Images of giant rats scuttling across the road infront of me, of werewolves, vampires, other nocturnal monsters, ran through my mind, chasing me, potentially attacking me. I also dreaded the darkness, an overwhelming nothingness, bleakness, a sense of disconnection from the environment as I could no longer clearly see the landscapes surrounding me, that had comforted and inspired me on sunny days.
In fact, running in the dark is a vastly different experience from running in daylight. Familiar pathways can seem unfamiliar, and the rustling sounds of animals and birds can be disorientating and frightening. Despite these challenges, I persist in going out and running in the dark, building my experience slowly, strongly. I have found that by doing this I am able to overcome my fears, step by step, and to begin to develop a new appreciation of the darkness and of the nocturnal creatures that I am privileged to see or hear. I have started to look forward to seeing bats swooping above my head, to hearing the sound of owls coming out of nowhere, to see deer in the woodland scampering away from me, and to notice cats’ eyes glimmer in the dark, observing me.
I think that running in the dark is a bit like experiencing life after bereavement. Grief can be overwhelming, it can leave us frightened and disorientated. The World can be vastly different from the World as we experienced it before the loss of a loved one. Suddenly, we find that we no longer enjoy the small pleasures we used to enjoy, suddenly there can be feelings of pointlessness and doom. Our perceptions can become very sensitised so that the smallest thing can upset us. Perhaps we need to build small and strong steps within our journeys of bereavement as a coping strategy. Maybe we need to go out and experience the World in its transformed state, and to appreciate new things or old things in new ways. We may try to embrace our new sensations and perceptions, rather than being frightened of, or by, them. In this way we can slowly acquaint ourselves with the realities of bereavement and then gain a deeper connection to ourselves, others and the World around us.