Chuck’s Place: The Light Side of the Dark Side

Light emerging from its soulful partner…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

No dispute that the dark side is ascendant now. Bringing light into the darkness is the spark of creation. Darkness and light are the eternal partners of creation and new life.

Genetically I hail mainly from drinking Irish stock. My violent alcoholic father knocked out my mother’s teeth while I shivered in her womb. Darkness.

By the time I was two my mother managed to divorce us from this violence, delivering us to my new Russian Jewish musician father, eighteen years her senior. My Jewish father interrupted my genetic predisposition and unfolding by providing stability, predictability and an example of well-grounded rationality. Light.

I learned to honor Mother, the most venerated in both Russian and Jewish tradition. By age sixteen I had to free myself from the containment of this maternal dominance, the darkness of the womb of the mother complex. Darkness.

In my senior year of high school I began my mentorship with Dr. Efren Ramirez, the Puerto Rican psychiatrist who became my spiritual father. Efren was ultimately to deliver me to Carlos Castaneda, Carl Jung and the I Ching—the fathers who have subsequently guided me through life. Light.

Efren was Puerto Rico’s shining star in the early 1960’s. He had solved the opioid crisis in his native soil through his innovation—Existential Confrontation and the Therapeutic Community. John Lindsay, New York City’s bright light mayor, seduced Efren away from Puerto Rico to tackle heroin addiction in NYC. Light.

Though drawn to the opportunity, Efren was heartbroken to leave his beloved Puerto Rico. His father-in-law had been governor of Puerto Rico and Efren lamented frequently the loss of native culture and autonomy of the island under the shadow of American possession. Efren proposed a “free association” status for Puerto Rico in relation to America, but it never came to pass. In truth, Puerto Rico became a welfare state with a debt to the mainland that it could never repay. Darkness.

Fast forward to today. Devastated by Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico remains still largely flooded and without electricity. President Trump has threatened to abandon the territory’s relief, chiding Puerto Ricans for their debt. Where is the light in this darkness?

Elon Musk proposed that he could power the entire Island with solar  electricity. The current Puerto Rican governor’s response was, “let’s talk.” Perhaps Puerto Rico will be lighted with the true energy of the future. Perhaps Puerto Rico will take Trump up on his offer to be abandoned, galvanizing their own energy and spirit, ultimately leading to the realization of Efren’s dream of independent status. Light.

These are the seeds, long buried in the shadows, that might sprout from the light side of the dark side of Puerto Rico’s current crisis. Like night turned into day,  all creation springs from the light emerging from its soulful partner, the dark.

Light and Dark,


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