We all have a shadow. I am not speaking about the physical reality that occurs when we stand in any particular light. I am speaking about the shadow aspects of the human psyche. It is often defined as the dark side of human nature. Most often, that is considered to be hidden, secret, and not allowed out into the light of day. And to some extent, that might be a wise choice.
However, to completely shun that darker aspect that lives within each of us, can also cause a great deal of damage. We, in the Western Hemisphere, have a tendency to deal in a dualistic mindset, meaning we most often view things in an either or juxtaposition. Things are black or white, right or wrong, happy or sad, with little in between. No gray areas to mess up that wonderful defining line between the black and white of any matter. But walking that definitive line constantly is incredibly difficult because there are so very many shades of gray between those two points of diversion.
The major advantage to that Dualistic Mindset, is that in any given situation, one should be able to see immediately the right or wrong of a thing. But, we all know that there are layers of gray matter that can interfere with that process. Some of them are what if’s, many of them are the personal circumstances of the viewer, while others are just plain confusion over the exact demarcation line. I might be seeing a bit of grayish white in the situation, while the individual standing next to me might actually be saying, “Charcoal gray.”
The matter of which is which is personal choice, and that is always made through the filter of ones world view. That in turn, goes back to our childhood and what we were taught, and how much we have allowed ourselves to grow since that time period. It speaks directly to what we define as our comfort zone. Each of us allows a certain amount of gray into that zone. We learn to tolerate some levels simply because it is easier, more comfortable that way.
But my comfort zone is different from yours, as yours is different from mine. Which means that what appears as deep charcoal gray to you, may very well appear as no more than a dash of light gray in my personal spectrum. And the most amazing part of that, is that we may each be able to support those views realistically, logically, and with some amount of passion in the doing. At the very least, it makes for interesting dialogue and debate.
But, back to those shadows. The ones that dwell within us. Most of us are uncomfortable with the idea that there might be something hidden in the interior of our psyche. How can you trust what you can’t see or might not know about? The world abounds with legends and myths about just such a reality. I’m thinking of one I heard years ago. It is Native American in origin, and I apologize because I do not know the particular tribe to which it might be attached, so what you are getting is my paraphrase of said story. However, the story itself is a good example of how some of us deal with even the idea of a shadow aspect within our own person.
It is said that the crow was not always black. That in fact, when first created, his plumage was a wonderful rainbow of colors, unlike that of any other winged creature. He was exceptionally beautiful, and he knew that and took a great deal of pride in that reality. But, it disturbed him that when he went walking in the sunlight to show off his brilliant colors, he was always followed by his shadow.
It was so distressing to him, to have to share that spotlight, that he would only come out when the sun was at its zenith. Which meant that his time of showing the world his singular beauty was quite limited. He became angry and resentful. So much so, that he began to peck at his shadow, trying to get it to go away, to disappear as he pecked pecked his way, whenever he moved or went anywhere.
In turn, his shadow became quite agitated at this relentless pecking, day after day, moment after moment, and all because it was what it was and was simply serving its purpose. Things didn’t go well between the two and one day, with one more peck, the shadow rose up and swallowed that prideful crow completely.
And that is how the crow came to be black all over. However, one can still see some faint aspects of that former brilliant plumage when he walks in the sunlight, and when the sun is just right, one can catch very brief glimpses of all those other colors of the rainbow as they sparkle through the blackness.
If we are not careful, we too can become like the crow. Prideful of our ability to see and be the ‘light’ in our world. We do all have those gray areas within us, those sometimes hidden and secretive aspects that we would like kept in the darkness. Or because we fear that those hidden things would spoil our ‘image’, we might, just like the crow, peck away at them, wasting time and energy trying to keep them hidden from view, which could so limit us, that we are no longer able to move about with any amount of freedom.
Again that choice is personal. We can choose to get to know those aspects, or keep them hidden throughout our lifetimes. Or some level in between those two. Personally, I choose to get to know them as much as possible, even making friends with some. I do that on my journal pages, which keeps it all private and allows me to make far better choices in the rest of my life.
And the most important aspect in all of that, is that I have come to know some of the Wild Things that dwell in those shadows. Things that have made my life happier, freer, and far more interesting than I could have ever imagined. Far deeper in meaning, and filled with a creative energy that never fails to astound me, but also brings satisfying comfort and healing to a soul that yearns for just that.
Who knows, I may be a crow at the bottom of all this writing. Did you know that most cultures believe the crow to be one of the most clever of the entire species of feathered creatures? That might be something worth aiming at.