It seems we humans have been doing the same thing since we first discovered fire. Always trying to cast light in the darkness.

THERE’S an old joke attributed to Grouch Marx – “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend, whereas inside of a dog it’s too dark to read”.

It’s an absurd piece of wordplay, but every time I hear it I’m taken back to my childhood.

Those long hours lying in the dark, waiting for sleep to whisk me away from the incessant clatter of my thoughts.

I’d often think about those dark recesses.

My heart beating away; my lungs inflating and expelling, even as I slept. Everything working away in the pitch black.

There’s a quote above my writing desk that says, “The person you love is 72.8 per cent water.”   

It’s a beautiful thought; each of us an ancient cavern, water trickling in darkness.

All our complexities hidden away from the daylight, even our thoughts ticking away in the dark confines of our skull.

Such reflections are comforting.

Of course it didn’t stop me, as a child, running all the way from the bathroom to my bedroom; leaping over the monsters that surely lurked beneath my bed.

But I was definitely more accepting of the dark, knowing that I carried it around inside me.

I wonder if that’s why it takes us so long to recover from major surgery.

Apart from the obvious physical toll on our bodies – the affront of having our inner darkness thrust into the light.

I had a text message from my mother during the week – sent from her hospital bed. “I have to swallow a camera,” she wrote, in her wonderfully candid way.

After assuring me it wasn’t a Polaroid, she went on to explain that a high-tech spy cam, the size of a jelly bean, would take a “fantastic voyage” through her digestive system.

There’s a 1960s film of the same name, where a crew of scientists are shrunk down and injected into the bloodstream of a colleague.

Their mission, to locate and destroy a blood clot with a laser beam, fighting off deadly antibodies and white blood cells along the way. The film ends with the surviving crew members swimming to the eye and escaping via a teardrop into the light.  

My mum’s experience might not be so outlandish, but it is fantastic; her jelly bean camera lighting up the darkness momentarily, searching for the source of her pain.

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about that camera on its hidden journey; the constant interplay of light and dark.

It seems we humans have been doing the same thing since we first discovered fire. Always trying to cast light in the darkness.     

Back in my 20s, a friend gave me a boxful of darkness as a going away present.

The strangest of gifts, it took me a while to understand that it was two gifts in one.

I had to trust in its dark contents, for as soon as I lifted the lid, it was a boxful of light.

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