Shadows are a funny thing.
If you really think about it, shadows are simply a place where the light has been blocked out. Some shadows aren’t very dark at all; the thing blocking the light is thin, and the light surrounding the object fills in much of the space that would have otherwise made the shadow bolder and darker.
Some shadows, though, are almost black. They are dark corners in tucked-away and forgotten places. Barrier upon barrier has been erected around the corner, so that the light is blocked from all angles. And once the clutter begins, it becomes easier and easier to shove more and more into that corner, until the light is completely obstructed and there is just darkness and secretive silence.
When it gets to that point, the darkness begins to weave its own story—like when I was a child and I would lie awake at night in the darkness. I would hear a creak somewhere in the house and suddenly my mind would make up ten different stories of what could have caused the sound…each one more frightening than the next. I gave the darkness unnecessary power over me. I would just lay there and let the fear (and the stories) grow.
I think part of the power we give to darkness has to do with an unwillingness to get into the space and shine a light to see what is really there.
If we are going to live out in the light, there are inevitably going to be shadows. Think about your own shadow when you’re outdoors on a sunny day. It is a sure thing that if the sun is shining, you’ll have to face the fact that your shadow is out there for all to see.
But that shadow will be weak and fleeting—and with the surrounding light, it will never be bold enough to keep anything hidden.
If we stay inside and keep shoving things into the corner, we’ve already taken ourselves out of the light. And then we create a space where the barriers can grow and the darkness can thrive.
Our best selves come forth when we are outside dancing in the light. But if you find yourself inside, surrounded by clutter and shadows, don’t worry–you don’t have to be afraid.
Find some light and shine it into the darkness. Shining light into dark corners gives the darkness less power.
When you shine a light into the dark spaces, you know what is there. And slowly, intentionally, you can start pulling back each of the barriers and putting them in their proper places. The corners don’t need to stay dark.
And you don’t need to stay inside.