Etchings.

I have seen ghosts tonight.

I have been watching a lot of the old Charlie Chaplin films lately. And as much as I enjoy Chaplin and can appreciate his comedy and innovation I sometimes can’t help but to think “all of these people are gone now…” This is not so much with movies like The Gold Rush (1925) or Modern Times (1936), but when I watch the shorter films from 1914, 1916, ’17 etc, I rather experience a sense of awe just seeing the rays of sunlight or the wind in the trees in these films of a world long ago.

Flickering images, silent, eerie.

And yet…

And yet, still the humor and the brilliance of the great Charles Chaplin shines through and it warms, it comforts. It can make you sigh and long for a time when things were a bit simpler by comparison, when technology had not yet complicated our lives to the extent it has.

Could they have known that almost 100 years later that people would still be watching them, would still be enjoying these films, viewed through media, devices and systems which were unimaginable at the time? Chaplin lived long enough to realize that he would be remembered long after his death. He was an artist who would relentlessly strive for perfection in his work and who certainly considered himself an artist. He helped to make films what they are today.And sometimes while watching those old, early turn of the century films, one can’t help but to feel a profound sense of awe, of a stillness inside. It almost feels like a sort of eulogy.

I have seen ghosts tonight. And I think they looked a lot like you and me…

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Somewhere in the darkness.

   I seem to naturally be a night owl. It seems funny sometimes considering that as a child I, like many children, was scared of the dark. It took the wind out of the sails of sight which was a little loss of control and it made me feel as though I was a little bit more helpless, as though one of my senses had been imprisoned.

     But now no more.

     As I grew older and started to try to stay up late and watch The Three Stooges and Laurel and Hardy movies they would play on the television and Johnny Carson it seemed a little bit friendlier by the flickering light of the T.V. This was not so much the case when, say, The Twilight Zone was on but I hope you know what I mean!

     Then, inevitably I started working.

     I worked day shift for the first few years because I was still in school. I tried to work a job on the night shift right after I graduated from high school but I felt a sort of thrilling fear after the first night and quickly went back to a day shift position. But I felt mixed in with the feelings one of fascination. Fascination at the thought of everyone else being asleep and yet I was up and about and living, waiting for the sun;

     another type of thrill.

     A couple of years later I was back on night shifts. I have been on them ever since, about twenty years now. My Father also worked night shifts all his life so maybe it’s genetic! But along the way I found myself growing fond of darkness itself. I began to love walking through it, being enveloped by it, disappearing in it. It seems I can almost feel it, like some wonderful almost tangible blanket upon me, draping me in its heavy, thick and solitary soul. I feel almost an electricity running through me in the absence of the light, almost as though perhaps (maybe?) that when I am in the darkness, unseeing and unseen that for a moment I cease to exist. I feel like the mysterious figure in the enormous, old Victorian houses or castles skulking around, maybe heard but not seen that one reads about in long ago Gothic novels. Like a spirit moving restlessly in search of something that never comes.

     Like a tree falling in a forest with nobody around.

     Even on my days off I sometimes walk around the neighborhood and look at the darkened houses and the silhouetted forms of the trees against the sky and love to watch the clouds as they silently race by overhead. They sometimes seem to be possessed of a sense of purpose and direction, as though heading out to keep some appointment…somewhere.

     Somewhere in the darkness.

     I feel that I know how they feel, if feelings indeed they have. And even though I know it sounds funny or even crazy but I sometimes wonder if there is a difference in them, if perhaps there are day clouds and night clouds just as there are diurnal and nocturnal animals and people. The clouds of the daytime more extroverted and ebullient and the night clouds more introverted and introspective making their way through the darkened skies to chase the moon and the stars. If such things be, then I am now most definitely aligned with the latter. I feel their restless formlessness and I know their seeking souls.

     For it seems that in the darkness is where I feel the most at home.   

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