On shadows

Are they positive or negative? A very good question, I answered, but I imagine the answer is “neither.” We tend to ignore the self-same shadow that we cast of ourselves, since it is always there. Shadows are, technically, nothing more or less than the absence of light because someone is blocking the light. A shadow is the description of a negative quantity of light. Yet, shadows seem to be so much more, and they often have a sinister edge to them. The word shadow is sometimes used as a synonym for the word ghost, and it is the root-word for “foreshadowing” which seems to have something to do with telling the future. When things stay in the shadows, we might suspect that something is wrong. In all the horror movies I ever watched, the monsters always stayed in the shadows until the last minute when throwing light on the situation seemed like a good idea but wasn’t. Staying in the dark, avoiding the light, lurking in the shadows, are all negative or suspicious types of behavior. If you are a shadowy character, your ethics and morals are in question or doubtful. Cooling off in the shade is probably a different matter where a person seeks the protection of the trees or a building or a wall in order to avoid the heat and light of midday–returning us to that lack of light, that negative quality of shadows. My favorite shadows are those long shadows that we all cast either early in the morning or late in the day. Our shadows stretch out behind us or go on before us, faithful companions that will only leave us as the sun goes down at the end of the day.