It’s always darkest before the dawn…
A bit of both worlds this time.
Today I was playing EVE Online and I got incurred another lost ship. For those who don’t know, every time you lose a ship in this game, you’ve gotta repurchase yourself another ship, whatever you’ve fitted to that ship, etc. You start from scratch, ship-wise. There is no save, no continuation from a previous point, with that ship.
So needless to say, losses have an impact in the game. And recently I’ve been managing to lose a lot. It hurts. It hurts because I fly so often, and I keep thinking that surely this means I’m getting better. I’m noticing what I can engage, what I can’t, where my ship’s weaknesses are. But all in hindsight, and I never recall it in the next fight.
Frustration rises. I felt like giving up entirely. Then Pandora goes and plays a song by Florence and the Machine, a song whose lyrics contained the words of the quote above: “…It’s always darkest before the dawn.”
It helped. A bit. Then I recalled a quote from Patrick Ness’ Monsters of Men series:
“It’s always darkest before the dawn, Todd.”
I look at him, baffled. “No, it ain’t! What kinda stupid saying is that? It’s always lightest before the dawn!”
So then, which one’s right?
Honestly, I don’t know. I’ve backspaced about 5 different sentences that came to my head, because nothing sounds right.
I desperately want to believe that this is the darkness before the dawn; that there is an escape to this horrendous streak of getting my ships blown up. (I’ll just note here now that the whole reason behind this post was internet spaceships. It’s true, I’m a bit obsessed) But I am not ashamed to say that when it looks like a fight is imminent in EVE that my heart pounds in excitement. It’s thrilling, and I want to get better at it. Games aren’t real life, but we could say real life is a game.
Anyway, lets have a look at Ness’ variant of the quote. Normally, it’s similar to the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’. An end to the darkness. A breath of fresh air after wandering the sewers. But his twist on it makes it a little different. It makes you ask, why DO we say it’s darkest before the dawn?
And it’s because we look that moment in time from the perspective of the day.
Standing in the afternoon, with the sun shining down on top of us, telling someone that it’s always darkest before the dawn, of course they would see it like that. We live in the day. Its light and safety comforts us. Night is the other time, explored in the strangely disjointed yet mellifluous poetry of T.S. Eliot, for example. And from this safety, we look out, and we see that it is indeed darkest before the dawn.
But from Todd’s point of view, it’s brightest. And if you’ve constantly walked in darkness, nocturnal perhaps, then it is brightest before the dawn. Before you see the sun, at that moment when the sky is lit red and orange from its approach over the horizon, it’s brightest, after all the darkness.
Does that mean Todd is a pessimist? Does it mean he’s a realist? Or does it mean he understands that the dawn brings nothing if it was not for the night prior?
That achievement is nothing, without the difficulties prior to it?
That the dawn is not the beginning but the end, because we already know that during the day, everything is okay?