The Darkness Within

Ghostly view of the bay

We all have a dark side. For some, it follows us around like a childhood ghost, just visible in the corner of our eyes. And then it’s knocking on the door, demanding to come in. Like we would ever want to welcome that dark guest into our lives.

But we do.

Your dark side goes through life gathering up anxieties and worries and stores them for those moments when you wake in the middle of the night and need something to be fearful about. And then you start the worrying game, worrying about things that matter but about which you can do nothing and worrying about things that don’t matter but seem so utterly overwhelming.

It helps to have a safe place to go. Not a physical place because you won’t always be able to go there. No, it needs to be a place inside your head where the child you once were can think about fireside stories, of cups of hot chocolate, and your faithful dog. The happy memories that create a warm glow, keeping you safe from the perils of the world.

We also need to know what triggers the darkness. Many of our fears and anxieties were laid down when we did not have words or sufficient thoughts to understand them. And then those terrors and dreads are there to drown our emotional state in blackness without the logic of any rational explanation.

In many ways, it is better that we acknowledge the existence of our dark side because denying its existence is like denying your enemy. Putting your head under the blanket in the middle of the night while the darkness grows stronger inside you.

So when darkness comes knocking on your door, ask what it has to say. Ask why you should let it in and what miseries it has brought as unwelcome gifts. What past regrets, what future anxieties does the dark side want to unwrap.

The truth of who you are is a bright light that shines from deep inside you. It is a light that creates happy memories and beautiful futures, like photo albums of human treasures. It is a light that fulfills your ambitions and denies the threats of failure that stop you from ever beginning. It is a light that can extinguish the suffocating darkness.

You need it to shine. And the world needs to see it. The light was there at the beginning and it needs to be there at the end.

Hold My Hand

I knew there were six steps down into the cellar. But most of the time, I fell or slipped down them, pushed suddenly from behind by my older sister. And then she would slam the door shut and lock it and scream with shrill delight.

There was no light in the cellar, so I curled up into a ball and pressed my hands over my eyes. I don’t know why I did that because it was so dark, you wouldn’t know if your eyes were closed or open. But I knew there was something in the corner, even if it was too dark to see.

There was no point in screaming. No one was listening, even if I could be heard. So I would say the Lord’s Prayer. I didn’t get all the words right but it was the only prayer I knew as a little five year-old boy. Praying and rocking back and forth in that silent breathless prison.

I found my fear of the dark down in that cellar. But far worse, I formed the imaginary horrors of things I could not even see. Things that would come from under the bed, from just behind me, from nothing at all. Things that didn’t even have a shape.

And then one day I was a grown-up, scared of the dark, scared of those things I cannot see. And in my fear, I reached out my hand but there was no one there to take it, to hold it and to tell me that everything would be alright. So I went on with my life and kept my fears deep down inside of me. Secret, in case anyone would use them to hurt me.

Inside every one of us is a little boy or a little girl who is reaching out their hand. And I want you all to know something. If you hold my hand, I will hold yours. And if enough of us hold hands together, then nothing in our imagined world will harm us. No darkness will take away our light. No more will our cries go unheard. No fears will hold us back ever again.

I have been incredibly uplifted by the support I have experienced from people I have met, right here. People like you, reading this now.

And we all have our stories to tell of the fears we are living with, wherever those fears may have come from. Maybe you are one of the lucky ones who has no fears. But you can still hold hands. Hold hands with the children that are living inside all of us.

I’m older now and my hand is out. Take it. I will hold your hand in return. And if you know someone who is afraid, tell them to come here and join us and we will all reach out together. Bring them here to hold hands and share their fears.

By sharing our fears together we will destroy them. And never again will any of us be alone.


Sept 17th – A quick update: I am overwhelmed by the response to this post. Many of you have written to me with stories of your fears and your need of a hand to hold. If we are to be stronger together, the message needs to get out, so please go to and share the post with your friends on Facebook. “Hold My Hand” is one way to change the world together. Thank you! John

And I’m here for you on email:

Daisy is Dead

I had to do it. They double-dared me. That’s how I saw the bodies of the dead horse and its headless rider lying there, waiting to be boiled down into glue. I screamed, the way anyone would scream.  And then the other boys and girls screamed while they turned and ran. Now, I was the only boy ever to have seen what was on the other side of the wall.

And when we ran across the road to our school, Daisy was lying on the ground by the gate and her hair was all matted down like a swimming cap and her mouth was on the wrong side of her face like she was trying not to kiss someone. Seeing Daisy like that, all crumpled and ugly with one of her eyes missing, made the girls cry. They didn’t want to hold her anymore and stroke her long blonde hair or brush it and dress her in flower-print skirts.

Miss Jones told us it was a fire, started by the big boys who threw a petrol bomb in through the open window. And now all of our books and toys were lying on the pavement, next to Daisy.

Miss Jones told us it was proof that we should never play with fire. Listen to the rhyme, she said:

“Poor Willie, all bows and sashes, fell into the fire and was burned to ashes. Now the room grows cold and chilly, for no one wants to poke poor Willie.”

And we listened but I didn’t know who Willie was or how he fell into the fire. If I fell into a fire, I would just climb back out. Miss Jones told us that Willie would never grow up and he would forever be a little boy. He is sitting at the feet of God because God suffers all the little children to come unto him. God loves dead children more than dead grown-ups because children are innocent like the lamb and will never become sinners.

So I didn’t tell Miss Jones that I had a box of matches in my pocket. And I was just waiting for a time to use them.

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