Character, like a photograph, develops in darkness.

by Gareth

February 20, 2020

“Character, like a photograph, develops in darkness.” Yousuf Karsh

We’re told life is supposed to be sunshine and unicorns. If anything ‘bad’ happens, or you feel a negative emotion someone will sell you a solution.

  • ‘The 5-steps to being happy’
  • ‘Get over your ex and onto the next in 30 days’
  • ‘Grief relief in two sessions’
  • ‘Live More Perfect Days’

It’s not ok to be down. Something is wrong if you’re feeling anxious, hurt or heartbroken. I have been guilty of this. When my heart was broken I numbed myself with booze and chased women for self-validation. Intimacy made me feel worthy and distracted me from the heartache.

But, how could you know what a Perfect Day was if you didn’t have shitty days? The duality of existence means one can’t exist without the other.

What if the darkness is where our true power lies hidden?

These darkest moments, when we’re tested the most, define our character. We develop in this darkness. What defines you is what you do when you’re face down on the arena floor. 

  • Don’t bury your head in the sand until the pain fades.
  • Don’t bypass, numb out or distract yourself until the sun comes out again.
  • Allow yourself to feel these emotions.
  • Process what’s happening.
  • Integrate the learnings.

Unprocessed trauma goes down to the basement and starts lifting weights. It takes courage, but find people to share your feelings with. Be cautious of those that tell you to put a smile on your face and get over it.

Look back at some of your toughest moments. If you’ve done the work, allowed yourself to feel and learnt from it you’ll see that these are moments that define you. 

Try to find the smallest slither of gratitude in the darkness. These are the moments that stretch you and from where you rise, stronger.

We spend our lives running to the light. What is it about the darkness that we’re afraid of?

  • The unknown?
  • Claustrophobia? 
  • Disconnection?
  • Not doing?
  • A lack of freedom?
  • Loneliness?
  • Boredom?
  • Facing ourselves?

What if we made different choices? Embraced the things that we fear most. Could you sit alone in darkness for five days? Next week I’ll unpack my experience of spending five days alone in the darkness.

Love and light (and some darkness)


Other recommendations.

On the topic of today’s blog post, Brene Brown’s book “Rising Strong” is a recommended read.

Quotes on this topic: Suffering is the sandpaper of our incarnation it does its job of moulding us. – Ram Daas

Highly recommended documentary on Ram Daas’ life – Going Home (Netflix). I think few people are as calm and accepting of life as this amazing spiritual teacher was.


About the author

Gareth is a Lifestyle Designer, a Perfect Day chaser and a minimalist. Based in Guatemala his highest joy is creating content that helps and inspires people to Live More Perfect Days.

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