the dazzle and the dark

One of my favorite Mary Oliver poems says, “Still, what I want in my life is to be willing to be dazzled— to cast aside the weight of facts and maybe even to float a little above this difficult world.”

The will to be dazzled? Now that is an interesting concept. 

Let’s admit it, we all dream about being dazzled. We dream about quitting the jobs that pay our bills but hurt our feet, packing a bag, a camera, and sailing off to some European town where we drink tiny cappuccinos every morning. We take pictures of the sunset or pretty flowers at our feet, and we are, for a moment, dazzled. 

Maybe the dazzle is something else for you - maybe it’s being respected on social media for your art, position in the community, and passion. You want people to look at your Instagram feed, meticulously kept with only the best, polished bits of your life, and be interested or inspired. There is a need to be accepted, desired, but it exhausts you trying to keep up with your peers or please your mother-in-law. You can’t afford to look like a Bohemian princess or your favorite fashion blogger, and it weighs on you. But you think these are the things that will delight you and bring your life that magic spark.

I can’t speak for Mary Oliver on what her idea of being “dazzled” was, but I can tell you, it is not worldly. It is not found by keeping up with The Joneses, and sometimes, it isn’t the beauty of nature or our fairytale daydreams that do it either. It’s the things that are hard to deal with, the darkness that looms over us, and the realization that we can overcome it. 

At 25 years old, I often find that when I am alone, deep in thought, or when I close my eyes to go “to another place,” I don’t always see sunshine and rainbows. I don’t see my future wedding day, a couple embracing each other in dreamy light. I see the corner of my dark closet, my arms linked tightly around my knees, head down, hiding from everyone around me. For years this has been my “place,” because I worked too hard to be liked or wanted, and I could not let people see that I was exhausted playing the game. I couldn’t dream because I was too busy pretending to be living it.

But, I let it go. When I go to that dark place sometimes and feel vulnerable or overwhelmed, I cry a little bit, smile, and say, “I’m ready to do something.” And that “something” that often comes from the rut of despair is what dazzles me. It gives me strength to pursue the true passions of my heart rather than try to impress. 

Following your dreams takes a leap of faith. It’s jumping off the cliff and building your wings on the way down (as told to me by my best partner in crime). Since I graduated college, I have had the amazing opportunity to travel more and pursue entrepreneurship, but it isn’t as glamorous as it appears. Living the “Hollywood dream,” as people say I live, takes guts, and a little jab to the ol’ pride to accept help. It takes saying no to going out with friends every night or buying new clothes for every occasion (which I still struggle with). It takes never knowing exactly when the next paycheck will be. It’s a risk. And I pray that even if I don’t find success, I find the reward in being myself. 

So I urge you, White Buffaloes, to find that dazzle in yourself, and learn how to balance what is good and pretty about your life with the darkness that is often kept in secret. Do not look at the world around you and mistake it for a mirror. You are an intricately designed work of pure love and wild imagination. You have similar qualities, interests, and style as x amount of women in the world, but you are the only you on this planet. Let yourself be in that dark place sometimes and KNOW, “I am about to really shine.”

Words by Kaye Askins