Afraid of the Dark

image of starry night sky

Pass It On is a new, bi-weekly peek inside the heart and mind of Francis Pass…


Click the play button to listen to Francis Pass tell this story.

When I was very young, we didn’t have indoor plumbing.

We pumped water from a cistern and carried a bucket back and forth to the house.

And when nature called, we’d pay a visit to the outhouse out back.

There weren’t any lights out there. And it was a good distance from the house. Or so it seemed at my age. So, a trip to the outhouse at night was a little spooky.

One night, I was on my way out as my dad was on his way back. I guess he decided to have a little fun because he started making all kinds of ghost noises.

As you can imagine, from that night forward, I was afraid of the dark.

image of starry night sky

But that didn’t stop me from pulling the same prank on my brother.

There was a line of pine trees between us and our neighbor Mr. Kaufman’s house. They were big, full, and the branches hung all the way to the ground.

One night, I somehow mustered up the courage to go out and hide amongst those trees in total darkness. I sat there and waited. And waited. And waited. It was eerily quiet. All I could hear were the hoots of owls in the distance.

Then, a twig snapped! Here came my brother, Mike, on his way to the outhouse.

It was showtime.

I flapped those tree limbs as I growled and howled in my brother’s direction. My acting skills must’ve been stellar, because Mike went screaming all the way back into the house.

It was at that moment that I had an epiphany. At the same time I scared the daylights out of my brother, I conquered my own fear of the dark.

I then realized that most of the things I was afraid of were nothing but figments of my own active imagination. And the more active it was, the more fearful I became.

That was a watershed moment for me. That realization helped me for many dark nights to come… whether it was a short trip to the outhouse or sitting in a hot jungle in Vietnam.

image of starry night sky

It’s okay to be afraid. But it’s not okay when we make it bigger and badder than it really is. We play out scenarios over and over again in our minds until we scare ourselves silly.

Sometimes we have to face our fears head on. We have to peer through the gloom to see what’s on the other side.

You may be surprised to find that ominous shadow in the darkness is nothing more than dad coming back from the outhouse.

Thanks for readin’…

Francis Pass.P.S. – Years later, Mike got back at me for that prank. But that’s another story for another day. Be well. Stay well.

image of an outhouse sign