Three or four years ago I borrowed a book from my mom to read on the flight home from Denver. The book was Jeannette Walls’ The Glass Castle. I loved it. The Glass Castle is Jeannette Walls’ memoir about her childhood and growing up with an unusual set of parents. I recently bought her third book, The Silver Star, published in 2013. The Silver Star is a novel and doesn’t offer quite the same insights into the author’s personal life like her memoir. It’s still a good read, and last night I was struck by a piece of advice the mom gave the young girl “Liz” after Liz had suffered a traumatic event.
Don’t be afraid of your dark places.
If you can shine a light on them, you’ll find treasure there.
How wonderful! I thought to myself as I lay reading in bed, using my husband’s blue headlamp for extra light. What incredible advice! The mother in the story is exactly right. I stopped reading for a minute and thought about my “dark places” – the places inside me that I associate with evil and rage and injustice. I realized that these places I tend to associate with the mafia and the evil voices/people that have surrounded me for so many years. While they all appear to be external, from a Buddhist perspective, this is not the case. There is something internal, inside me – a dark place perhaps – that I need the courage to overcome. That’s why I really liked this quote, especially the second part: “If you can shine a light on them, you’ll find treasure there.”
This is really true, especially in Buddhism because we use our problems and sufferings to help us grow and to create value. While I was writing my memoir, I determined that my story would be one way for me to create value out of the horrendous situation I found myself in for so many years. By writing about my experiences, I could not only heal emotionally, but I could also be a source of hope and offer encouragement to others. I also came up with a great, new idea for a children’s publishing company that I’m really looking forward to starting, and I think this will also be a way for me to “shine a light on my dark places,” and find the treasure within.
This is such an amazing perspective to view the darkness within our own lives. We must not be afraid to illuminate this darkness – to create happiness from suffering, joy from pain, and treasure from poison.