NASA made an official announcement today that “The world will not end in 2012.” Well, whew.

End of the world or not, it is most certainly the darkest day of the year. I’m far enough up north that the sun’s been down since 4:30. To add cliché to misery, the snow just turned to rain. From here on out, the days get longer, yes, but before we get around to celebrating the impending light, let’s first give a little love to the grand darkness, shall we?

Darkness is not my strong suit. But I do know that it’s the darkest night sky, moonless and away from city lights, where the stars really turn it up. And it’s only from those stars that we can get a sense of the magnificent depth of space.

So…a few things you can do tonight to burrow in and snuggle up with your dark place. If you’re moping around feeling sad, consider it a head start into the broom closet of darkness. Here goes –

— Listen to a story about utter, shattering hopelessness. Here is Mike DeStefano telling The Junkie and The Monk, the single most powerful story in the entire history of storytelling.  After you listen to it – but only after you listen to it and bawl your eyes out – look up Mike DeStafano for the rest of his life story.

— Try again with that book that stumps you. For me, it’s Toni Cade Bambara’s The Salt Eaters. The book’s opaqueness – the dark parts that I can’t follow – make brighter the parts I do understand. In particular, healer Minnie Ransom’s question to Velma Henry, who has just tried to commit suicide: “Are you sure, sweetheart, that you want to be well?” That line keeps coming to mind as I read about the young white man who committed suicide at Newtown, killing not only himself, but 26 others as well. All the commentary around the rampage suggests that we want to be safe, but we haven’t a clue what it is to want to be well, either individually or as a society.

— Listen to a John Donne poem A Nocturnal Upon St. Lucy’s Day, Being the Shortest Day, about grief. It includes the line, The world’s whole sap is sunk. Which is only outdone by this one: and often absences/ withdrew our souls, and made us carcasses.

— Try some gut-twistingly sad songs.  Here are Flavorwire’s 10 Songs That Make You Cry. An eleventh (because there’s no such thing as too much crying on the solstice) is Sugarland’s Stay.

— Apologize. There’s at least once this past year when you’ve acted really badly. It was so bad that you’ve probably made up a lot of reasons for acting the way you did. Tonight’s the night to sit down in your dark place and stare it down. Put away all those deodorizing rationalizations and excuses and it stinks like old kitty litter, doesn’t it? If you’ve been avoiding thinking about what an asshole you were because it makes you feel horrible, well, tonight’s the night for feeling horrible. If you can still peel yourself off the floor and string a few words together after polishing off that fifth of whiskey, start a letter of apology.

Doing these things will make the longest, darkest night of the year even longer and darker.  But then the sun comes up in the morning, and at 10:00, there’s Queerfit. Hallelujah.