Friday, February 4, 2011

Red in the Dark

  I was holding a red crayon so I wrote down blue. Ben had passed out the colors and told us to guess what they were, “Write it on the piece of paper and then stick it in your pocket.” For our outdoor education program, we are featuring a night hike so Ben was leading the group of us through the new activity. The only problem was it wasn’t dark - I was holding a red crayon and I could clearly see it. Ben talked about cones and rods and people’s heads disappearing in the dark.  We cupped our hands around our ears to make deer ears and then wet our noses to improve our sense of smell.  Then he instructed us on how to guide the campers through the solo part of the hike. It seemed ridiculous talking about fear in the bright day light. Darkness certainly transforms a place.  The things that we are so assured of in the light become easily questionable in the dark. Color is not clear at all. Red could very well be blue.  Ben instructs us to tell the kids to keep their eyes moving and look through their peripheral vision . “It is easier to see in the dark this way,” he tells us.  And I wonder how many times I have tried to focus directly on the thing before me. Lately it seems the world has hit such black patches. Trying to focus on the thing itself to appertain meaning, perhaps makes it appear even darker. What if we learn the lesson from our night vision? Let us look around then. Keep our eyes moving and keep walking forward. Red is red even if I can’t see it or name it for what it is. It is a skill to adapt to the dark. Wet your nose, cup your ears, move your eyes  around, and walk on.

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