Why light needs darkness

Why light needs darkness was a recent TEDTalk by Rogier van der Heide.  van der Heide is what is called a lighting architect, which in very simple terms means that he helps construct environments which utilise light to the best of it’s abilities.  This doesn’t mean flooding a space with light, but rather using it wisely and appropriately.

I found his talk fascinating for three reasons:

  1. I’m about to shift into an office which has no natural light – the opposite of what van der Heide recommends.
  2. His use of light and darkness, and the way they interact made me look at the way I use light within my photography.
  3. The concept of light needing darkness, and vice versa; meant a great deal to me from a healing perspective.

When I was listening to his talk, I was thinking of the make-up of my dissociative system.  What if, instead of being scared of the shadows, I use them to augment the light?  What if I augment the darkness with the light?  This isn’t about balancing them out so that there is only grey… this is about showing each part of the light spectrum at it’s best.  I suppose this is similar to the idea that each part of the system is to work together… but these ideas have always been given from an intellectual perspective in books which has held little attraction for the entire system.  While it’s made sense to some, it hasn’t rung true… there’s been a sense that parts would have to drastically change in order for the system to work together.

Yet, this abstract idea about light and dark, in a talk which had nothing to do with healing, made sense.  The ones in the shadows saw that they could operate from the shadows, and still work with the system in a positive way.  The ones in the light, saw that the shadows didn’t have to hold nightmares, instead they could hold strength, resolve, stubbornness, intelligence, courage, a backbone…  At the moment, these characteristics are what I lack on a consistent basis.  I often need to be triggered before I can access them.  But what if my internal rooms became like the ones van der Heide designed?  Ones where there was a balance and harmony between the dark and light, to the point where it was symbiotic, rather than parasitic.

I’ve no idea how to make this happen, but it’s given me another perspective to work from.  One which seems more achievable, and a lot less scary than what I was envisioning before.

As a note, I strongly recommend checking out the TEDTalks… they can be unexpected sources of hope, laughter, inspiration… and are often thought provoking.

Now playing: Missy Higgins – Where I stood
via FoxyTunes


8 thoughts on “Why light needs darkness

  1. Wow. This sounds like a giant – I mean, GIANT – leap forward. I absolutely love the way you’ve taken something from a completely different field, seen meaning, and been able to apply it. I love it. 🙂

    May be in thinking about how to make this work, you could think about other aspects of photography – like the whole perspective, dof, thing? I dunno, just a thought.

    But I love it! Have I said that enough yet?? 🙂

    • Hi Kerro,

      Thanks 🙂

      It makes sense that this would appeal more to the system, as the talk gave some great visuals of how the light and darkness could work together to enhance both. It’s not about keeping the status quo, but looking at a realistic goal that is about involving more parts in the healing process.

      I’m only a pretend amateur photographer, so I don’t know how much of the photography analogy I can take on board, but it has possibilities.

      Take care,

  2. Isn’t it great when you can see connections between your experiences and things that seem unrelated? Great creativity on your part! It had to take a lot to get through his droll french accent. So, you have to get bonus points for that!

    I like how you are thinking about this. If I understand what you are saying it’s that you are accepting each part’s amount of light as it is. I think what you are talking about is collaboration.

    • I have a dodgy accent, so identify with others dodgy accents readily 🙂 Besides, I have a feeling I tuned out anything to do with him once I’d understood what he was saying and started showing examples. I think there was also a dissociative element to the whole thing too…

      Yes, it is about collaboration. But realistically, it’s about understanding that the ones within the shadows can be part of the healing process, and stay in the shadows. They have gifts and strengths that others in the system don’t have. They deserve to heal and be heard – all parts do. When I read the books, they talk about the parts who are destructive having to change, which I realise I took internally as meaning that the shadows had to disappear. But that isn’t the case, what needs to change is the boundaries around what is acceptable and what isn’t. It’s about acceptance, accountability and working together.

      I’m probably still not explaining it well. I’m not good at transferring the imagery in my head into words.

      Take care,

  3. Yes, this explains it really well. It’s a very healing view. It’s not ever about making them disappear, but about having a “better quality of light” available to them.

    • Or a better quality of darkness… it’s about allowing each part to be their best within the boundaries we establish.

      Yeah, still don’t think I’m explaining it all that well… Fail whale alert!!!

  4. This sounds like a really healthy experience. I love that you thought of this application in a non-mental health venue. I think, and I’ll emphasize “think” because I don’t want to transfer my emotions onto this and end up missing your point, so I think that the idea of parts having to change sometimes makes it sound like they’re bad, like they should go away. To my system that’s incredibly insulting and also threatening. My therapist has emphasized that every part of me no matter what their function, is there for a reason and should be acknowledged and heard. I think realizing that parts don’t have to either leave or change completely can be very good. Instead maybe it’s about the parts that are in the shadows simply (haha simply) learning how to use their particular gifts as you said, in a healthy way, a safe way, a way that won’t harm you but also let’s them be recognized and appreciated for what they bring to the table. I think that’s great and I’m really glad you got something so special out of this experience. I hope I didn’t flub that whole comment.

    • Hi tai,

      Many of the books that I’ve read have been about major transformations for some aspects of the system. To us, this meant total and utter change… like going from a pessimist to an optimist, from “bad” to “good”. It was this sort of thinking that was really destabilising the system, as healing seemed like a huge threat… but when we saw this talk, there was a realisation that there are different strengths within the shadows which I need to be able to access consistently. If my inner rooms were designed so that both the light and the dark were at their best, then there would be an ability to access all of the strengths within the room.

      That’s what I took from the talk… we don’t have to do a 180 turn in order to heal. All parts need to be involved in the healing, and they can do so from the comfort that the shadows provide. They don’t have to stay in the shadows, but if they want to, they can do so while still contributing to the system and this thing called life.

      In some ways some of this has happened, but I had reached a huge wall of resistance that was getting extremely dangerous. I don’t know if that has eased at all, but watching this talk caused a great deal of thinking and reflection… that alone was a good thing 🙂

      Thanks tai… you didn’t flub your response at all, you understood my rather rambling and round about way of saying things.

      Take care,

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