When the world gets dark, I tend to go the way of a crocus. I close up. Hide out. Sign off.
This natural behavior in plants is called nyctinasty. Scientists provide many explanations for why certain plants do this. I know why I do it.
The world can be a scary place. People freak me out on a regular basis. Not just the mass murderers, but even people on the road or those yelling hateful slurs at others in grocery stores. The last two docuseries I’ve watched remind me just how disturbing it can get out there. Two men sharing their account of being deceived as children. Another child taken in the night.
See, the thing with me is that I feel things deeply. Since I was little I’ve had a tendency to absorb, imagine, and empathize to the point of anguish. I never knew quite what to do when I witnessed others in pain. I quickly began to feel it. I remember there was a boy in my school who had a sibling with cancer. When other girls my age probably fantasized about kissing this boy, my thoughts tangled up with how I could help, how I can ease his pain. It’s always been like this for me. And I’ll be the first one to admit, it’s a little awkward to be like this. I eventually figured out I could stuff a lot of emotion in my stories—my characters. That resolved some of the empathy overflow.
But I still anguish for others. I grieve the current condition of the world. I grieve how it’s always been.
So, for self-protection, restoration, and a way to channel and/or preserve my resources, I close down sometimes when the world gets dark. I nyctinasty. Only for a little while though. Because I’ve also learned the great value of remaining open to the light.
*Miss you, Dad.