I was very young when I first saw my shadow, a new plaything, a new friend like in Peter Pan, but it would be several more years before I knew Peter and his fantasy. I knew Peter’s shadow was there even when he couldn’t see it. I learned early that the shadow is always near.
The older I became, the less I thought about my shadow. I knew it was present, but it was just a shadow. I wasn’t afraid of it. I played with it still some times, making shapes, watching it stretch out before me or draw near, seeming to crowd into my shoes before stretching out again behind me as I looked to the setting sun. The light was there, the shadow merely where I stood soaking up the life.
Other people’s shadows startled me now and then. I’d take umbrage at the shadow’s impertinence at assuming so much with people I knew and some I loved. I still don’t know if it is better for the darkness to come all at once, like switching off a light, or to watch the slow eclipse to nothingness. For those who succumb to their shadows, I suppose it doesn’t make much difference. Now that I think of it more, though, I believe I want the sudden powerlessness, the short circuit, the blackout.
As I walk in the valley of the shadow, I try to keep it before me, sun at my back, headed for sunset. Late in my afternoon I’d like to turn and go back to daybreak. Maybe I’ll just walk on into the sun instead.