When I was a child I had a little, portable record player that I kept in my closet. I could play 45s on it. I used to listen to one record over and over, Me and My Shadow. “Me and my shadow, my shadow and me. We’re always together as close as can be…” It was a little Peter Pan voice singing, which I didn’t remember until I looked it up just now. I find it interesting now that I used to sit on the floor of my room with the record player going in the closet and make shadow puppets and sing it over and over.
I was thinking about the song because I was thinking about shadows on my walk one morning last week. I was looking at the shadows cast by the trees and a thought occurred to me. Depending on the light, sometimes shadows make something look much bigger than it is. You’ve seen the scenes in the cartoons where the shadow is big and scary and then you see its cast by something small like a mouse, right?
Seeing the shadows that morning made me think about it in the opposite way though. My thoughts weren’t about how maybe the things that scare us aren’t as big as they seem. My thoughts were, maybe we linger in our shadow sides because it makes us feel bigger, more protected. Perhaps we are the little mouse that feels bigger when it creates a big shadow. The trick is that of course the big scary creature created by the shadow is just an illusion.
Maybe those two thoughts go hand in hand then. Shadows are all about illusion. The source of our fears is usually much smaller than we allow our fears to get. And dancing with our shadow side only makes us feel bigger.