Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Afraid of shadows

"Me and my shadow
Strolling down the avenue
Me and my shadow
Not a soul to tell our troubles to" 
 --Songwriters: Dave Dreyer, Al Jolson and Billy Rose
The sun is out here so I suppose if the groundhog (aka wood chuck) lived in Seattle he would scurry back to his den and sleep another six weeks. I wonder, though, if the groundhog is really afraid of his shadow, or just afraid of the light. He is a creature that lives in the dark.

I've never been afraid of my shadow. I've been afraid of other people's or other things shadows. But maybe that is more being afraid of the unknown than anything else.

I used to be afraid of the dark. More accurately I was afraid of what I couldn't see in the dark. I imagine that is a primal memory in the animal part of my brain remembering when predators hunted in the dark.

My son is afraid of the dark and he looks to me to keep it at bay. So I can no longer be afraid of it. I must control it with light or false bravado. But at times I still look over my shoulder as I rush for the light switch when going up the stairs from the basement.

I suppose the shadows I am most afraid of are the ones in my head, the dim memories that flutter by in the peripheral portions of my brain. Maybe those are artifacts, too, of the collective consciousness passed along by prehistoric ancestors. Or maybe they are the remnants of dreams that I can't quite recall.

But still they are just shadows. They aren't real, except in Never Never Land where they can escape from Peter Pan and be hidden in a drawer. Or was that just a euphemism used to describe Pan's darker self? Was it his Id that escaped? Or his Mr. Hyde?

I think I've conjectured about this before, but the irony is that there can be no shadows without the light. There are no shadows in the dark. Just murky shapes.

In their defense, shadows do soften things. Light can be so harsh and unforgiving. Shadows give things depth. Shadows give things atmosphere.

I guess when it comes down to it, I'm more comfortable in the shadows than the the light. So it could be a dilemma when my time comes if someone tells me to walk into the light.

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