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Take a Walk on the Dark Side

Beware of the Dark Side – Yoda, “Star Wars”, 1977
If you’ve been anywhere near a movie theater in the past 30 years, then you have to at least recognize the sage words of the Jedi teacher Yoda as said to his young apprentice Luke Skywalker.

Although from the same film series, this quote is a little less known, but expounds the original though.
I sense great fear in you, Skywalker. You have hate… you have anger… but you don't use them. - Count Dooku, “Revenge of the Sith”, 2005

Unlike in movies, books, and particularly musicals, ALL human beings possess the capacity for a “dark side”. Just as we all have the capacity for a good side. Our fight for dominance may not be quite as flashy as Hollywood’s portrayal, but we make it on an everyday basis. And every little decision we make affects those people around us – and sometimes those people farther out from us.

When we are children these decisions are fairly simple. Do we follow Mommy’s rules? Do we lie if we broke Mommy’s vase? Do we tell Daddy we didn’t have any Halloween candy at 8 in the morning (despite the fact that chocolate is all over our faces)?

As teens the choices become more complicated, and the complexity is only made all the greater because we are trying to be independent and make them without our parents. Am I going to look at the picture of the hot girl on the internet that all my buds are talking about? Am I going to sneak into the “R” rated movie that my parents don’t want me to see, but all my friends are going to? Am I going to go “all the way” with Billy, even though I made a promise to stay a virgin until I got married.

And it doesn’t get any better as we become adults. Am I going to stab my co-worker in the back, because I know I am more qualified for that promotion than she is. What am I going to do with that $200 I found in the parking lot? I really need the cash for my medical bills – maybe this was a gift from God! How can I best hide that receipt from where I went shopping last week, when my husband told me we needed to buy only the necessities?

And these are just the “innocent” struggles we deal with.

If most of us are completely honest, there are many darker secrets in our minds that we try to ignore. My co-worker is so hot, and he keeps brushing my shoulder when we talk. I wonder if he’s trying to tell me something. My forum pen-pal wants to meet for dinner. I’m sure it’s just an innocent meal, but I better not tell my husband just in case. My mother can be such a B***h, sometimes! I wish she would just leave me alone! Why did I ever have kids, they are nothing but a burden?!

And even these thoughts, “ugly” as they may be, are things we will never act on. We let them roll out in our minds, but then feel automatically guilty – because we know they are “dark thoughts”, and that we don’t really want to carry them out.

But these dark thoughts serve a purpose.

We are human. We have a good side and a bad side to each of us. As is taught in Taoism (which I am just becoming familiar with, and becoming extremely fascinated with) – life is made of balance. There can be no day without night, no shadow without sun, plants cannot grow without sunlight AND rain. Balance is essential. By trying to completely repress out dark nature – we give it far more power over ourselves that it deserves.

Instead it is better to recognize that there is darkness within us, be aware of it, find its root, understand it, and then find a way to keep from dispensing that darkness onto others.

Halloween just passed us. I love Halloween it is always a great and fun holiday for us. Our family is Christian, so it has become somewhat tainted in the past few years with the debate over “Halloween is evil, it celebrates Satan, it worships witchcraft, etc., etc." To me it has always been, and still is, just a fun time to dress up and go get as much chocolate as possible (Of course now I dress up my kids and scrounge their chocolate!)

But I always enjoyed dressing up as a bad guy; vampires, witch, villain of some sort. See, I was the goody-two-shoes in school. Halloween was my chance to let my alter-ego out. And my kids have that same sense of theatrics. My youngest (5) still wanted to be Luke Skywalker – he’s young enough to appreciate heroes, but my daughter (11) was a goth cheerleader, and my oldest son (17) was Pein, one of the bad guys from the anime “Naruto”.

And if you ask most actors and actresses what parts they enjoyed the most, they almost always say “the villain”. Because it is a chance to let out a side of yourself you normally suppress.

So recognize your bad side. Don’t be ashamed of it. Don’t let it take over your life, but if you ever have the safe opportunity (like Halloween or a costume party) go all out and be that vampy vampire, sex temptress, or bewitching witch.

Join the Dark Side – but just temporarily!

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