How do we know shadows? Do we even bother to acknowledge shadows, except for when sweating under the sun? Do we know our own shadow? Do we see another part of our self in shadow? Is a shadow more than the absence of light cast by an object? Is it another vessel?
In the deep absence of space, light is vacuous, except for our remembrance of light’s decorum: how it warmed our faces, how it grew our plants, after-rain rainbows, sun dogs, and the luminous moon. With pin-lights millions and billions of generations away, distant suns with their invisible solar systems are the only mementos of light out here in black limbo. Here, amidst nothing, we are truly alone; far away enough to be out of earshot, out of eyesight, and out of the way. Alone in the light pales in comparison to the loneliness one feels in the dark.
Forces occur in pairs of equal magnitudes and opposite directions. To paraphrase Isaac Newton’s third law of physics: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction in another body.
Another body, I think with my other self, lost in backward imagination and anomalous curiosity of such a common and forgetful thing as a shadow. Aren’t we crazy?
My shadow is my counterbalance. Like a fulcrum, the souls of my feet meet where my body and shadow have grown upward for year after year, day after day. For all of my conscious, my unconscious also resides within me. For all my fears, insanities, and carnage, my peaceful side – my lightful side – also resides within me. Through our fulcrum, our umbilical cord, we maintain our link, both physical and metaphysical. Like a bottle on its side, the oil and water mixes and commingles with the agitation of turbulent waters. Never completely one, yet never completely apart. Symbiotic specters coexisting in the same place; matter and antimatter.
Shadow. It provides cool respite from the summer heat burning above. Yet, within its sanctuary, I see the world a little differently despite any real change in anything around me. The only difference: the shade.
I can sit alone in the light, be it inside or outside, and it is not the same as sitting alone in the dark. There is a “blanket” feeling in darkness, like it cloaks me. Perhaps you feel it in the light just as a female friend of my mine so does. She thinks it odd and paranormal – freaky and bizarre, really – that I prefer to sit in the dark than light. In the evening, after everyone has turned in and are either sleeping or watching late-night infomercials, I can be found outside, basking and enjoying the cloak of darkness that veils us each moonrise. Like a soft, warm, comforting baby’s blanket, I can be (in life) in darkness unlike in the light.
Fluorescent lights, incandescents, halogens, LEDs, high-pressure sodium-vapor lamps – we live in a world of light, casting out and exiling the age-old terrorist we have both feared and revered for all of mankind’s existence: darkness. Instead of finding ways to harmoniously exist in the night, we disrupt its serenity and sovereignty by harnessing an artificial recreation of day’s light: headlights, street lamps, flashlights, nightlights, tabletop lamps. It is all blasphemous in the aphotic sacellum, the co-sanctum to our illuminated temple. Within this artificially lit world, we can not see the stars anymore. No more are the speckled, sprinkled, sparkling beauties of the night, the darkness.
Shadow Friends, a poem by Artificer:
Out of place and out of rhyme,
I see the world through different eyes.
Dreams to live in days of old,
I was not born for the modern times.
Through colored pains of stained-glass work,
abusive memories in the shadows lurk.
Trust betrayed and hate-love wars,
my battles within have made me a jerk.
I don’t cry. I don’t call.
Alone, I quietly wander my own dark halls.
“Don’t ask. Don’t tell,” is how I live.
Deep inside, I am still a child – scared and small.
I slipped through life from young to old
without causing a ripple, but mine own.
Who will miss me, but my shadow friends?
But, you know, now, because you were told.
Too dark, too cold to invite you in.
Stay outside, but please be my friend.
With no one to play with, it is only me.
My loneliness seems to have no end.
Saviors had come a couple of times.
I thought they were, but they had lied.
Or, had I only deceived myself
to get out of my hell and cut my ties?
I beat up myself with each successive failure.
I am not a good student, so how can I be a good teacher?
I can not learn from my mistakes in past.
Consequently, my shadow friends are still my keepers.
They hold me close and keep me safe
from prying hands of help who want me to escape.
My solace is here where I know things to be.
Do I go, or do I stay? I am afraid of which path to take.
My journey is long because I travel in circles.
I am afraid to go too far because of painful hurdles.
It is easier to stay where I am, than to leave or become free.
But, I like to keep moving even if it is at pace with turtles.
Come to me, my shadow friends,
with your arms of comfort and ears you lend.
Keep away the joys of love,
and the pain I feel when, at me, their smiles they send.
Hate-love wars – love to hate.
Who is in control? What is my fate?
Let me hurry! Let me change!
For the loved ones in my life, forever they will not wait.