Light, rather naturally, is the thing we most want to own, that we are most deeply drawn to– so much so, in fact, that we tend to hate and disown the darkness within ourselves to a degree that effectively sabotages most of our human relations.

Unable to tolerate our own sadness, rage, hatred, helplessness, and evil– what Jungians would call our shadow-we constantly elect others (whom, rather conveniently, we will also manage to hate and reject) to carry them for us. Appointing ourselves (in our zeal to avoid the inevitable chiarascuroof life) bearers of pure light, we have no choice but to appoint others to carry the darkness, to do our psychological and spiritual dirty work for us. And this, of course, would be a clever, if not ingenious, strategy with which to disengage ourselves from our own darkness… if only it worked.

The self, however (or the soul), is a rather vengeful creature, and does not take lightly to having part of itself disowned. So that the meeting which occurs when light and dark are split off from the entirety they in fact are is not the meeting of two realities, as in love, but the meeting of two illusions– which is always the fuel for potential hatred.

This, of course, is the very essence of the projection, or splitting, with which so much that passes for love begins… and ends. Unable to tolerate the darkness within myself (but at the same time wanting so badly to love all of myself), I project it onto you, my beloved, who I can then fall in love with in its name. In this manner, for a brief moment at least, I am whole, having reclaimed my disavowed self, quite literally, by tossing it elsewhere and then retrieving it.

But such an ersatz wholeness is, indeed, a falling.

Which is why lovers who have fallen under its spell cling so relentlessly to one another. For only when they are together is either one of them an entirety, like two persons each with an arm in the sleeve of a single coat.

United, they know for a brief instant– though only through the cheap, fleeting intoxication of their own severence  from themselves– the ecstatic nature of wholeness. Separated, they come face to face with the deep reality of panic and abandonment– the abandonment by, and separation from, part of their own souls. Like a lamp severed from the necessary darkness of a wall’s interior wiring, the one who has appointed himself the beacon of pure light– who has bequeathed his own dark power to the other in the name of love– can no longer shine.  And the other– who, complimentarily, has given away his light– is left ineffectually sputtering away in his own darkly wired interior.

But lamps, too, contain prongs which allow them to penetrate their own darkness. And a wall contains openings out into the light. Separated, each is revealed for what it is, yet no light is possible. But when the lamp is built into the wall– when the light is deeply connected to the dark source of its own power– it is what we call recessedor tracked… In other words, it is connected to its own depths. It no longer requires a source external to itself in order to burn.

Mired in its own darkness, such lighting gives off less glare, but a steadier, more reliable light. No mere pull of a cord can set it off into the panic of having to confront its own, disconnected darkness, which it now contains. Hopefully, affectionately, it confronts the other, dimmer lights shining out from the wall’s darkness. Burning this way, separately andtogether, they can illuminate a whole room. And this, it occurs to me, may be what love is.