A letter from your sponsors
Today, your host is missing. The interviewer who writes these articles has not showed up for work. We suspect that she has succumbed to the shadows that often plague writers, the inability to escape the spiraling thoughts of futility, impotence, confusion, and darkness that sometimes keep humans from performing their basic duties and fulfilling obligations. We therefore ask your assistance in finding her.
You will need to come with us on a journey into the darkness. You will need to be courageous, yourself; you will see things here that trouble you, and perhaps even threaten your own ability to move forward. We understand that, as a writer, you are likely a sensitive creature. We know that such as you may see the darkness in the world and forget how to distinguish between outside sorrows and inside sorrows. We ask for your assistance anyway.
Take this torch, please. This light is created by what you write. When you write of the ignorance of leaders, the cruelty of children, the pointlessness of man, you hold the torch firmly aloft.
Now we can enter the tunnel. Hold the fire up to the wall. Do you see how, written there, a President shakes hands with a creator of poisonous insecticide, one that has caused cancer in numerous children? The poison spreads; the infant sickens in the womb. Write about it, please.
We continue. Do you see, now, the picture of the religious leader siphoning off funds from his charity, to fuel his jet, justifying it with elaborate rationalizations? Write every detail of his thinking. Allow yourself to get inside his mind, as ugly as it is.
Are you angry? Good. Now your torch is burning bright. We continue.
A little farther, you see a picture of your own mother, sweet and warm. She is baking for you, isn’t she? She’s also talking on the phone to someone. What is she saying? Listen, please. In her words, you hear that everything she’s told you about her marriage is a lie. She can’t wait to leave; she just needs to get you through school and out of the house, first.
It hurts. Write it.
Starving polar bears, singed baby orangutans, children in Thailand enslaved to peel shrimp eighteen hours a day, so that the cats in the United States can have a variety of canned food. Write it.
Friends betraying each other. Forgotten loves. Unassuaged loneliness, worse as the human race becomes more disconnected from community.
Write it. We need your torch.
You see a picture on the wall of a world, a few centuries from now, where the human race has been reduced to a desperate few. In a way, that’s good, you think; they’d been doing such a poor job of being part of an ecosystem, and maybe the few left will learn. But then you see a closeup of what you thought was a star, and instead, it is a beautiful spaceship, containing the wealthy and powerful remainder, who have escaped the planet they helped to incinerate. They go on to spread the disease of human greed to other worlds. Does that make you despair? Write it.
Feel the breath of cold, clammy chill? That means we are approaching the center. Hold fast, please; now is not the time to falter. Oh, you see a picture of yourself? Yes, hold the torch there. See the memory of your own negligence. See the mouse you caged and let die, because you were a child and you were busy with other things. See the hurt you caused a friend when you chose to be with a new love instead of helping her in need. See the opportunities you’ve missed, the mistakes you’ve made, over and over. This is all part of the darkness. No, stand back up. Write it. Your torch burns brighter now.
Now you hold your torch aloft, and see around you a great chamber pulsing with red light. The giant human heart in the center of the room, suspended in midair, is pierced by swords, by knowledge of the ugly truths we must face. And there, in a corner of this chamber, is your host. She curls in a fetal position, overwhelmed by what she has seen, the same images and visions you have had, and others that are specific to her fears and shames. But you can help her. Make her tell the ugly truth, as you have done, and create light with your words.
Yes, look at the heart. Do you see the pain of each piercing sword? Do you see the loss of blood, the sorrow? It hurts to look at it, but you must continue, and describe what you see.
Now, look at the words you have written. They are beautiful, in themselves. They create light. Truth is light, even when what it describes is darkness. The truth itself lights up the darkness. Do not succumb, as your host did, do not stop writing what you see; your light is needed, to guide others out of the dark. There are terrible wrongs in the world, and always will be. It is okay to be sad about them; sorrow is one of the trees in the Garden, and must be watered and fed. Persist, keep writing what you see, and eventually, the shadows fade. See? Your narrator stands, awake now. She is weak but aware. She walks back with you, out of the tunnel, grateful for your help. You have done a true and good thing. You have taken darkness and turned it into light. You and your host arrive at the mouth of the tunnel. The sky is still dark, but on the horizon, a line of pale gold tells of what will come again.