This is a draft of the introduction to one section of my next book of poetry on The Shadow. The working title for the book is Hide and Seek, which is about finding ourselves:
I have been in a long dance with the shadow as an aspect of myself from my first introduction to the idea as a teenager through the work of C. G. Jung. The power and reality of a shadow self really came home to me when I began writing a short story in 1976 titled “A Game With Death,” about accepting death and confronting my shadow. This confrontation bared my worst judgements of myself and brought up nightmarish images, culminating in a scene involving a dead baby, which was so frightening I stopped writing the story midway through and left it hanging for 30 years.
I returned to finish it in 2007 to find, to my surprise, that it did not end at the horrific scene stuck in my mind but ended with a chance for me to ask one question to save my life. I truly believe that something was gestating in those intervening years, something that needed to go underground in order to mature, and that it took me 30 years to develop the strength of character to truly embrace this shadow self.
The shadow side has always been the mysterious guest, the double agent always nearby, and the doorway to our own dangerous edge. My shadow reveals what I conceal even to myself inviting a richer, fuller expression of who I am and adding seductive charm to my presence in the world. To engage the shadow is to own this double life, to give the hidden a home in me, to let the weeds grow and the woods thicken so what is wild in me has a place to live and freedom to roam.
I have always been fascinated by the shadow as an archetypal presence, as the unknown or disowned parts of ourselves that harbor our wild and dangerous side as well as our powerful and promising side. To follow posts on this theme, click the Shadow tag below.
Isn't it strange that we often take better care of our pets and our cars than we do of ourselves? How do you deal with your own unwanted expressions and your own self-criticism or neglect? Do you dance with your shadow?
Photo, Prose, and Recital © Nick LeForce
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