Sunny, warm with a slight breeze. As the 68 degree weather gently envelopes my body, I lean back and close my eyes, raising my arms as if I were a plant absorbing as much sun as I can. This is a moment of growth, but only I can feel it. My eyes emerge from below my eye lids, the flare and radiance of the sun overwhelming my visual senses, and as they begin to adjust I notice what I believe to be a person. My mind races as I attempt to quickly figure out why they are just standing there, why they refuse to move and more to the point, what do they want? “Focus!” I think to myself and before long, I come to realize that I am staring at the shadow of myself on the wall.
The importance of this final moment, just before the twilight of my enlightenment, is that the questions I had while my eyes adjusted from the darkness to the intense light, were questions for what ended up being myself. As Peter Pan chased his shadow, the significance of our own shadow lies in the blurry and disorienting period between adjustments. These adjustments are the results of both mistakes and victories, time and space, pain and pleasure. The cliché that hindsight is always 20/20 supports the idea I’m currently presenting, that it will be during these adjustment periods that the greatest questions should arise and will occur, it’s WHY hindsight is 20/20. As my shadow stared back at me with a look of indifference, I finally accepted the questions I posed for him, and saw that this darkness on wall was my true self.
Pulvis et umbra sumus – We are shadows and dust
Why was I just standing there? Originally, I had stopped because like the plant, I was in a period of growth, I just hadn’t realized it yet. Within myself I felt that something larger was at play, that the anxiousness and new-found energy I had was not simply a result of unknowingly altered approaches to age-old problems, but that I was in fact midst my own personal revolution and by association, evolution. My mind and soul were in flux and the constant flurry of new and old gave kindle to a fire that had once burned within myself. Eyes closed and arms raised, I was able to simply exist without prose or concern for anything other than the warmth and solace I felt from the center of my planetary system. I was standing there because I could not walk with my eyes closed without a misstep or falling. No, I needed to stop. I am both an introvert and extrovert, it fits the intensity that I feel inside and often exude in most aspects of my life, but at this very moment, I needed to tap into the introvert. I needed to exist in a place where I could begin to arrange the vastly different and mostly dislodged pieces of myself. I needed and wanted to understand what exactly I was facing. At this time, I shut down my normal avenues of communication and closed off my thoughts because how can I put into words what I do not understand myself? While some may, I cannot.
Why did I refuse to move? Even as things became clearer, I knew that any resistance or attempted movement before understanding would result in my sinking. Think quick sand. I often wondered and became increasingly concerned of what it looked like as I stood in place but acted differently. It is in my nature to be different, to act as others will not, to not fear change and to attempt because I will never find out if I do not. This, however, was not normal for me, to stand still while trying out new things. I had essentially preemptively changed knowing full well a storm was on the horizon, that the changes I was about to make would be unlike any approach I’d ever made previously and that the result of this could scar what I’ve always held close. I smelled a storm, but went to the basement alone. A common topic that I’ve covered lately has been about confidence, acceptance and moving forward, all key genres of the changes that were occurring. They are also intricate parts of the larger machine of our Self and knowing this meant that I shouldn’t attempt to move while still fuzzy about what exactly I was experiencing. This has been the most painful part of this process for me, as I’ve had to watch those I care about immensely alienated by my sudden halt of everything I’ve traditionally given. Yet, it was necessary. It forced me to ask the next question…
What do I want? As my eyes readjusted to the brightness, I saw the silhouette of myself on the wall. I AM the shadow. I am constantly surrounded by light, my friends and family, strangers and those I’ve yet to know. Life is all around me and I absolutely love it, but I have volunteered sacrifices that have become exhausting. I found myself settling for what I believed to be for myself, but was in fact so that I could continue to reside next to the life I love. I have spent an inordinate amount of rejecting parts of myself with the pure but misguided intention of being the icing on a cake that required no frosting. A result of this has been a decline in self-confidence as I allowed others desires to supersede my own for the sake of their betterment, only to watch little true progress being made while concurrently becoming unhappy with my own position. It was self-deprecation at it’s finest, and I acted out as a result. I wasn’t asking the right questions and created an environment that with the perfect conditions, would ignite a blaze that would rival the sun. In asking the question of what I want and taking approaches that differed from my normal response, what I found was what I had been looking for. Myself, but found it with a level of comfort I had not experienced in many years. I wanted to be the greater Me.
I love hard and that pendulum swings with incredible speed and force. I hardly ever spend much time in the middle of my ends, mainly because I have never really slowed down to appreciate the space in between. What was new was the realization that in order to become the greater Me, that I had to not simply acknowledge the parts of myself I’d purposely lost, but I had to embrace them once I found them. That I had to grab the opportunities I was presented with, take advantage of the unique pivot point I’m currently standing on, but most of all…being happy with myself. I have always placed a heavy emphasis on those in my life, compromising with sacrifice so that I could continue to be with these people. This will not change, but going forward, I will only sacrifice with compromise. I will no longer fear who I am so that I may fit a role. I’ve always taken others perspective into account, usually with great accuracy, only to have it requested that I put the shoe on the other foot. The problem with that is that I don’t wear narrow shoes, I’ve got wide feet. I almost always am capable of remaining objective and because of so, I will always take others into consideration in my infinite thoughts, and in order to stay infinite, I am returning to outside of the box. It is where I have always felt comfortable and believed the greatest in myself to flourish.
A lot of what I’m experiencing remains a bit hazy to me still, the seemingly natural state of self-improvement, but what may not yet seem clear to those around me is my intent in all of this. I do not believe it’s realistic to expect everyone to understand, even those who know you/I the best, so I will explain one last thing. There was and never will be malicious intent in my actions, but I am not apologetic if it was perceived as so. They say to treat others as you wish to be treated and so I will never short-change a person for running after what they believe makes them happy, and I hope for the same consideration. Those who know me, well or not, know where I stand and that I will continue to give full support, it’s who I am. Know, that from time to time, I will move against the grain in search of answers, but outright selfishness will not continue to have a place in my life as I move forward, that is NOT who I am. I am not above-board for doing what I feel is best for myself, but I will always take into heavy consideration others thoughts/feelings and attempt to do what’s fair for all parties. I am fully adopting my Living Selfishly, Selflessly philosophy. I do not have a complete grasp on my better me, but it’s in my clutch. I want you all to be my light, to join me on this exciting and unbeaten path that I’ve started to explore. I have found my shadow and am kicking up plenty of dust, and now I can see my silhouette everywhere I turn. I am free.