The Shadows


Just like physical objects, everything in life, even the good things, are tainted by Shadows.

These Shadows cannot be eliminated – at least not without extinguishing the Light also.

They are created, the way physical shadows are created by dimension, by the fact everything is impermanent, intangible. It is not an easy fact to come to terms with. Whether it is because we are deluded by the illusion of “I”, or find ourselves yearning for more than we can ever have, the changing season of life for creatures who are aware of it, and would like to hold on to a vibrant leaf or two before it withers, is a large Shadow, and will always be, dragging behind us in our everyday lives like a heavy cape through mud.

And just like physical shadows, these Shadows have a habit of creeping out, on thin, dark legs, when the days are cloudy, the nights dark and long. What some people have trouble grasping is that these Shadows cannot be banished through any physical means, be it love or food or sex or escapism, for they live within us, and dribble from our eyes and mouths and between our legs the moment the physical satiation ends.

We are all drowning in our own Shadows, you and I, gasping and thrashing, unseen and silent. They are the reason we get lonely, depressed, sad, for they are dissatisfaction incarnate, wriggling like tadpoles beneath our skin. It is worse for those among us who are less easily deluded; the Shadows like us, because they feel seen, and crawl and slither the more fervently for it.

There also things which make the Shadows deepen, the way the setting of the sun makes physical shadows stretch and spread and elongate.

People with black hearts who have ignored their own Shadows for too long, and have been consumed by them.

Shadowy places: abandoned playgrounds, an empty classroom, a walk through the wood with nothing but the rustle of leaves for company.

Certain intervals of the day – particularly evenings, when the world turns gray, flat and quiet, and you feel half-ghostly, wandering and searching for something you have lost, or perhaps never had in the first place.

But fear not: just as real shadows can, if not banished completely, be driven away by turning on a lamp, or stepping into a patch of sunshine, so can your Shadows.

Various sources of light exist, one of the most prominent of which is laughter. Yes: laughter. Simple laughter. Unseen except on a spiritual level, the stuff explodes from people’s mouths like fireworks, like sparks, bursting the darkness open in a flood of fire. Others include delight, a mellower source of light that glows quietly on people’s lips and inside their eyes, and an appreciation of the present moment, which smoulders deep in hearts like a flickering candle flame.

Ultimately, nothing can get rid of the darkness forever, and there will be many moments when it seems nothing exists in the world except it. Like the cavemen-and-women of primitive times, we fear the Shadows more than anything else – for it is filled with the unknown, the painful, crawling with monsters and demons. But we are not helpless; that, I think, is important to remember. Against it we can wield light, a bloom of fire to drive away the shadows and beasts, and cluster close together around it, and live through another night.


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