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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Walking At Night (A rerun of one of my old favorite posts)

This is a rerun of a post that first appeared on September 30, 2009:

          Darkness does not have to always refer to that which is bad, evil, or scary. One definition is that darkness is merely the absence of light. Normally, though, the absence is not absolute. Often it is quite easy for most of us to see in the dark once our eyes adjust. We just might not see everything or see as well as we might if there were more light present. Walking in the dark can sometimes be illuminating to the mind and soul.

          I've been thinking more about my past experiences with walking at night in the mountains. When I was in my years between about 19 and 25 I did a lot of night walking, not for any bad intent, but just because it was interesting and it was something to do.

           I was still living at home with my parents in Maryville, Tennessee while attending the university in Knoxville. One of my favorite places to go any time of day was the Foothills Parkway, at that time a 16.5 mile stretch transversing Chilhowee Mountain going from the town of Walland to Chilhowee Lake. Foothills Parkway is still mostly unfinished, but should one day extend a total of 71 miles all the way to Interstate 40 near Cosby, Tennessee.

            Back in the early 70's the Chilhowee Mountain stretch was the part of the Parkway that was most accessable to me. It was about 15 minutes from my parents house to the parkway entrance so it was a easy place to go for a pleasant drive, to watch the sunset, or park and enjoy the city lights at night. The views were spectacular--the Great Smoky Mountains to the south and the beautiful Tennessee Valley to the north. If it was really clear, looking northward you could possibly see past Maryville-Alcoa to Knoxville and as far the Cumberland Mountains. No matter what the time of day the views were picture postcard perfect.

           My friends and I probably went up to Chilhowee Mountain at night almost as much as in the daytime. At about the midway point of that stretch of the parkway there is the Look Rock Observation Tower which is a circular concrete structure easily accessible by a ramp. The view from the top is amazing and attracts many visitors throughout the year. Most people don't go at night. That's when I usaully went.

           The Look Rock Campground, which is operated by the National Park Service, is nearby. Sometimes we would camp at this beautiful campground and walk up to the tower during the night. There were usually very few people who camped here. Most of the time the campground was closed and when that was the case we would park across the parkway from the tower access road and walk up to the tower. This way was much easier than the designated hiking trail which wound up from a scenic overlook area up through the woods. The access road was not as steep, it was wider, and much easier to follow in the darkness. We never brought flashlights. We never needed them. There was plenty of starlight, moonlight if the moon was out, and whatever ambient light exists that typically lights the night.

           After reaching the top of the tower we would nearly always spend the first several minutes silently taking in the view around us-- the shadowy majesty of the Great Smoky Mountains silhouetted against the night sky, a glimmering peek of Chilhowee Lake behind the foothills, the darkness of the valleys, and the expansive spread of the constellation of lights between us and Knoxville and beyond. We could see the lights of the Knoxville McGhee-Tyson Airport and watch the coming of going of the air traffic. There was the continous movement of the lights of the ground traffic flowing the streets below. The world of the night time spread out all about us as we watched in a sort of awestruck silence.

          Then after our meditation on the night, we would begin our musings on the possibilities of not only the night, but our lives, the world, the universe, or wherever our imaginations took us. Much like conversation that is traded around the campfire we would tell eerie stories and ponder the mysteries of the unknown all the while watching the skies in hopes of seeing a U.F.O. or at the very least a streaking meteor. It was a time of dreams and wandering thoughts. Eventually we would make our way back to the campsite or the car with renewed spirits and unanswered questions.

          After night has come, most of us sleep and dream. I've heard some people say that they don't have dreams. According to research, we all do dream and dreaming is essential for good mental health. Research tells us that on the average humans spend six years of their lives dreaming. Even animals dream according to scientific studies. Those who say they do not dream probably just don't remember their dreams or recognize that they are dreaming.
           Darkness inspires the dreams of sleep as well as the dreams of wakefulness. I'm sure you have heard people say, "Close your eyes and imagine...". What happens when you close your eyes? You create a personal state of darkness where there are no overt visual distractions and you can focus on an inner state of peace. It's good to dream whether it be nightdreams or daydreams. So close your eyes and dream of things as they have been, as they are, and as they could be. All that has been accomplished was initially dreamed. Let your dreams work for you. And don't be afraid of the dark.
            Do you listen to your dreams?   What have they been telling you?   Are you afraid to walk in the dark?


  1. I love the dark, although I've never tried walking around in it. It's a bit dangerous where I live. But maybe one day, I'll try it.


  2. Most enjoyable read Lee, I have been known to take a wlk along the beach in the dark, the sounds of the waves and the tranquility of the surroundings can help one sort out the problems of the day.

    Have a good day.

  3. Yes, I'm afraid of the dark for sure walking in the dark. There are few street lights here, so I would be walking with a flashlight and meeting all kinds of critters. Yes I dream all the time and it interferes with my sleep. My dreams are telling me I'm too anxious right now.

    Great post.

  4. Not afraid to walk in the dark. I do take a flashlight because I don't want a car to hit me!

  5. Lovely post Arlee, your descriptions were beautiful and made me want to visit there myself!
    I love the dark and used to walk in the dark a lot when I was younger growing up in Chicago. Funny that it never scared me then! Now I'm afraid I'll trip and fall on something as I just don't see as well as I used to!! But I still love sitting in the dark in the house. My husband hates it!
    I love my dreams. Sometimes I try to figure them out while others I just enjoy. I love when I dream that I am flying, I've had that dream since I was a very young girl and still have it from time to time. It feels so real, it's awesome!
    Love Di ♥

  6. My husband and I go for walks at night all the time! I love nighttime.

  7. It's not the safest around here, so no one really goes walking in the dark. But it must be something to experience . . .

  8. A rerun, Lee?

    I had no idea your blog was in syndication!

    I won't walk in the desert at night-too many jumping cactus!

  9. Misha -- Walking in urban darkness is probably more dangerous than the dark wilds.

    Yvonne -- - The beach at night can be very beautiful and calming.

    Teresa -- Sounds like you're on edge these days and need a long calming walk in the dark.

    Alex -- Cars can be a danger if you're walking on a road.

    Diana -- You and I are of the same mind on this subject. I am a huge dream fan.

    L. Diane -- If people can get over their fear of the dark there can be so much to enjoy.

    Golden Eagle -- You sound like your in a similar situation as Misha.

    Larry-- No, not syndication-- maybe laziness?

  10. Lee your descriptive prose is excelent. Yes I walk in the dark but as can be imagined I enjoy it, dreams have meaning and in my case usualy point to some upcoming event. I had one just before New Years Eve that came true on the 31st. I wont bore you with the details though.
    God bless you my wandering friend.

  11. I’ve never been one to wander in the dark, but I do love to dream. I also enjoy sitting with my eyes closed imagining. A dream got me started on writing my first book.

  12. As a female person, I hesitate to walk alone in the daytime. When I work at the observatory, I stand on a mountaintop in the dark. I love it. When there is cloud cover, it is so dark, it is amazing. I swear one night the trees kept moving around. Kept walking into them.

  13. I have left an award for you on my Inspirational post,


  14. Lovely remembrance and thoughtful post Lee.

    Darkness, carries a certain comfort and calming. Indeed, the place where dreams are born.

  15. Great post....
    Now you've got me feeling all contemplative.

    Excellent writing, sir.

  16. A very good and thought provoking post! I also like the darkness...

  17. I do listen to some of my dreams. Some of them have told me that I need to be ready.

    As far as walking in the dark, I sometimes love walking in the dark!

  18. The most significant dream I ever had told me I was going to have a girl and her name would be Roxanne. I did listen to that dream. Roxanne is now 8 years old.

  19. Geoff -- I don't think dreams are at all boring. I don't know if any of mine have been premonitions, but I should probably pay closer attention.

    Jane -- Dreams have inspired many great things.

    M Pax -- Trees can be pretty cool in the darkness, especially when the wind is blowing.

    Yvonne-- Thank you so much. I will be posting an awards recognition soon.

    Paula-- Thank you so much, Paula. If we let go of fear, darkness can be comforting and calming.

    Andrew -- Thank you for saying so. Did you remember to turn out the lights before contemplating?

    Pat -- Thanks! I think a lot of people misunderstand darkness.

    Lon -- Dreams are messengers. I'm not sure what mine have been telling me, but I should probably listen more closely.

    Marjorie-- Good to hear from you! I was wondering why you hadn't posted lately. I should start heeding my dream messages better. It's cool when they tell you about things to come.


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