“Once you let the darkness inside, it never comes out.”
A couple of characters on Arrow, one of my favorite television shows, made that statement in an episode. I believe it – up to a point. You can get the darkness out, but only with a lot of hard work and heartache. The best strategy, however, is never to let the darkness in.
Which brings me to a story that started last Saturday …
It was supposed to be easy. I was taking Karen’s car to the local tire store for an oil change and state inspection. It was early. I’d be in and out in maybe a little more than – not over, my friends, never over – an hour, maybe even a little less if I got lucky.
I didn’t get lucky. Not by a long shot.
But I didn’t and couldn’t know that when I took my seat in the
green waiting room. All I knew then was that the TV was too damn loud.
Then I noticed why the loudness bothered me. It was on the Faux News Channel. Some of you probably spell it Fox. Some people probably think it is news.
I was struck immediately by how angry everyone on the channel seemed. And how it seemed to permeate every word said. They sneered as they read the news. I guess they were sneering at Democrats in general and the president in particular. But I think they also were sneering at the audience.
What they were really doing, of course, was sneering at the truth as they fanned the flames of racism, homophobia, and every other form of hate they could think of. That’s what they really preach on that channel – unabashed hatred. Hatred for what you don’t have. Hatred for what you don’t want. Hatred for everyone and everything that doesn’t fit a narrowly defined agenda.
” If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” You know said that? Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s chief propagandist.
I started thinking, as I looked around the waiting room transfixed on the performances (because I believe that’s largely what they are – the newsreaders couldn’t really be that stupid and shallow and angry, could they? Well, I guess Huckabee could bee – you see what I did there). These folks had let the darkness in.
Luckily, I’d brought my tablet so I could read a book. Unluckily, I’d forgotten my earbuds, and because the volume was up to 10.5 (I won’t dignify it with an 11), I struggled to keep my concentration.
Somehow, though, I eventually managed to lose myself in my reading. About two hours later, it occurred to me that things were taking too long. That’s when the mechanic approached and asked a question: “Sir, have you been having trouble starting the car?” “Well, no,” I said. An uncomfortable silence hung in the air. I broke it first, “After all, I drove it here, and you guys moved it into the service bay with no problem.” He kept the blank look on his face: “We can’t get it to start. We’ll keep trying and see what’s wrong. But you might want to get a ride home.”
A half hour or so later, after I found out they were no closer to having it fixed, I did. The manager told me they’d keep working on it and would call me back later that day.” He did. To tell me they still didn’t know what was wrong. And would be towing it to a dealership for more work. And that if it was their fault they’d pay for it. And that, oh by the way, the dealership couldn’t look at it until Monday.
Was I angry? You betcha! It kind of ruined my Saturday.
Things didn’t get a lot better Sunday – I spent most of the day doing my taxes. I actually came out a little better than I expected, but by the time I finished, I felt like I’d been put through the wringer.
To be sure, I was fighting the darkness. I’ve had it inside me before, over a long time, and it’s a miserable existence. The characters on Arrow are wrong, though. To get the darkness out, you have to learn to trust and learn and even fail again. And move on from the failures. And open up to people and make friends and laugh and come up with ideas – even stupid ones – that you’re not afraid to vocalize. Most importantly, you have to want it out of your life. “I choose to be happy.” That’s what the CEO of my company says and I believe him and I choose happiness, too. Every. Damn. Time.
The next couple of days were hard. Karen and I carpooled, adding at least an hour and a half to my day. And much stress to hers, too – she’s not crazy about my car or my driving. But we made it through. We looked at it as more time that we got to spend together. By Tuesday afternoon, the car was fixed. At no charge. Even for the original oil change and inspection.
When we went in to pick it up, the television was silent this time. And dark.
The darkness may have still been in that television. But it wasn’t in me. It’s not going to be in me.