What is it about a shadow that’s so intriguing? Perhaps it’s the thought of looking into the reflection of a figure almost identical to ourselves, but without the details.. no color, no expressions, holding endless possibilities and unknown identity… so familiar and yet so unknown?
My middle daughter went through a phase as a toddler where she screamed at the mere sight of her shadow on the ground. At first she’d try and run away, stopping only to shake her feet, hoping to rid them of her tagalong friend. Once she’d figured out that wasn’t going to work, she’d just sit and cry until someone would take pity and pick her up, turning her face into the sun so she wouldn’t have to see it… but still turning around every few minutes to whimper at the fact that it hadn’t gone away. Then one day, out of nowhere, she waved at that monster on the sidewalk, and it waved back. She wiggled a leg, it mimicked her dance. And they were fast friends from then on out.
It’s so funny now, to remember those days, as she’s by far the one child in my house least likely to be frightened by anything, the one most likely to face whatever challenges present themselves head on, pink boots ablaze.
I’d like to think she learned a lot in that 6 month shadow-fearing period… That you can’t run away from your problems, they will follow you. That you can’t ignore an issue, it will still be there when you turn around. That the people who love you will always be there to pick you up when you’re down. That a smile and a wave can make a friend out of the worst enemy. And that the unknown is only scary if you let it be, it can also open the doors to a world of opportunity if you let it.
Of course it might have just been a toddler phase…
Either way, I have a particular fondness for shadows now… the dark reflection of the child, stretched by midday sun, alluding to the potential growth and experience ahead in the years to come… a constant companion through life’s travels, the one friend guaranteed to stay by your side… at least until a cloud appears!