Honesty, courage and authenticity.
These are the things that get to the heart of everything. Emotions become intensely and keenly felt as one revisits the pains, wounds and traumas that one has gone through in the past that have been buried and repressed over the years, which, if ignored or dismissed or not dealt with, may resurface surreptitiously in the most unexpected ways and at the most unexpected times.
The dark night of the soul is painful but necessary. It brings rain that cleanses. A sense of relief follows.
On the other hand, being in a public platform, whether it be a workshop or chat group, seems different, based on my experience in attending workshops on how to be successful. The sense of positivity seems predictable after a while, even manufactured. Maybe there is a place for such positivity, even if it appears trite and formulaic. Who wants to be sitting in a seminar room and be faced with awkward silence and forced smiles when learning about how to be successful and wealthy? (But being in a mindfulness meditation session is another thing altogether, for cultivating silent contemplation is encouraged, but that’s probably another story for another day.) Thus, I can imagine that the speaker would have to gather the inspiration within in order to carry out the workshop in such positive and empowering manner. In addition, by expressing positivity and gratitude, they egg one another on to go further in life. We all have to start somewhere, even if it looks obligatory and formulaic.
Still, there is something about the dark night of the soul that grabs the heart in a way that no amount of positive thinking seminars can do – it enables the soul to feel and express its sheer rawness, its unedited feelings, its primal cry to be heard and acknowledged in the universe. I believe that the psalmists took to writing precisely to experience such catharsis.
Perhaps Henri Nouwen said it best:
“What we live in the most intimate places of our beings is not just for us but for all people. That is why our inner lives are lives for others. That is why our solitude is a gift to our community, and that is why our most secret thoughts affect our common life.”