Darkness, My Old Friend
Darkness, My Old FriendObiekwe "Obi" Okolo
I was afraid of the dark until I was 26 years old. Afraid, not in a grown-up anxious sense, but in the irrational way a child might encounter it for the first time. As I grew into adolescence, I learned to cope when it became socially unacceptable to vocalize that particular fear. I learned to suppress my fear such that it would never manifest outwardly, all the while my emotional insides churned like a raging sea of infinite and possible terrors. Sleep never brought rest because it required I first sail that sea, and sunrise brought only a few hours of relief, knowing I’d soon have to face my fear again. So, you can imagine that the fall-end of daylight savings and I have never gotten along. A 4 pm sunset and 8 am sunrise shifted the balance of my day so that more time was spent afraid than not. I could tell you about the moment I overcame my fear, but that’s a longer piece for another day.
I can say now that it required, as you might imagine, that I wrestle with it—with and in a sort of darkness. In that wrestling, I was marked by an affinity. I discovered an appreciation—a thirst, even—for the infinite nothing. Almost overnight, that warzone became a playground. Of course, it didn’t actually happen overnight, but it was nearly. And the metaphor is too good to leave on the cutting room floor. When I wrestled with the night, I met a new friend or, better yet, made friends with an old foe. My fear itself. I learned that the dark and all that my imagination could conjure within could be an accomplice to my creative impulses. That the very same imagination conjuring those ghoulish worst-case scenarios looking to harm also contained equal capacity to generate all manner of weapons to combat those demons. I learned that perhaps light and dark weren’t opposed in the way I thought they were, but interrelated and interdependent.
Here’s a collection of songs and sounds that might help you wrestle in these long, dark, everything-filled nights.
Take a seat, pour a drink, turn shuffle off and hit play. Our BitterSweet playlists are for listening. Not background playing, ideally. There are so few invitations and avenues for unhurried, undistracted listening in our world. Give yourself an hour with this playlist to appreciate where we are right now—thinking little about where we've been or where we're headed. Enjoy.
Ps. A little protip for Spotify users. I find the abrupt ends and silence between songs to be a bit distracting. The break often yanks me out of the space the music collection is working to create. If you agree, try this. Go to "Settings" on your Spotify desktop or mobile app. Scroll down to find the "Playback" settings, and set the "Crossfade Songs" slider to at least 8 seconds. Now your songs will flow seamlessly from one to the other.
Obiekwe "Obi" Okolo