Casting a Long Shadow

Note: Congratulations to Frauke the QuiltHexle who won the e-book on the October 10 giveaway!

We see ourselves in certain ways–“the patient one,” “the black sheep of the family,” “dependable.”  Maybe other people don’t see us that way, they know us in ways they experience us, instead of the ways we experienced our roles in families. There is often a big disconnect between how we see ourselves and how we show up in the world.

A good way to know who we are is to watch our shadow. How to we show up in the world?  Are we like a shadow at noon, barely visible? Are we like a shadow cast when the sun is low behind us–long and fast, leaping over a landscape?

A gate and its shadow. © Quinn Mcdonald All rights reserved

That shadow we cast in real life on a sunny day doesn’t look exactly like us, after all. It’s hard to guess when the angle of the sun distorts our height, what we look like in a mirror.

You can catch a glimpse of what people think when you tell a story or give an example. “I’m not that extroverted,” you say, as prelude to a story of you dancing  on the sidewalk, and you notice people exchanging glasses. Uh-oh, they knew what you didn’t suspect–you are an extrovert.

An interesting exercise it to watch how people react to you–smile, cringe, lean forward, hug. The person we are when we are rushed or in a place where we don’t care about our behavior–in the grocery line, among strangers–is often the real us.

The gate above caught my eye. In the angle of the sun, it casts almost a duplicate as a shadow. Had I been there earlier or later, it would have looked different.

Journal prompt: Walking down the street, I turn and look at my shadow. I feel ___________, but my shadow is __________

–—Quinn McDonald is a life- and certified creativity coach. She is the author of Raw Art Journaling, Making Meaning, Making Art, published by North Light Books.