Feeling Your Way Ahead in the Dark

The light switch on the wall of my studio, conveniently located by the door, doesn’t go anyplace. I’ve plugged lights into every socket in the room, and the switch doesn’t connect to any of them. There is no ceiling light.

When I go into the studio at night, the closest light is on the desk, and I have to

"Finding their way through the dark," © Quinn McDonald, Monsoon Paper, tissue, ink and watercolor pencil on handmade paper, 2014

“Finding their way through the dark,” © Quinn McDonald, Monsoon Paper, tissue, ink and watercolor pencil on handmade paper, 2014

walk across the room in the dark. My toes generally begin to protest, begging me to put on shoes. Sometimes I do, sometimes not. I’ve learned to leave a clear path, but sometimes a cat, looking for a cool draft, pushes the chair into my way. I’ve cracked more than one toe that way.

Tonight, as I felt my way into the studio in the dark for the thousandth time, I realized that I had a flashlight on the phone, I could turn on the hall light, but no, I feel my way ahead in the dark. Just like real life.

There are whole weeks, sometimes months, that I feel my way through life in the dark, believing I won’t stub my toes, step on something sharp, or break a fingernail (or a finger) on the outstretched hand, trying to figure out what my next move is, where I am going,  all in the dark, without reference to anchors.

There is something to be said for experiencing the dark. It’s becoming familiar now, and I move through it more certainly. Which is nice, because we are promised nothing in life, and much of the time we are in the dark, clutching our plans, and feeling out way through.

– Quinn McDonald is traveling again, driving through the dark in a place she has never been.