Acting on the shadow
It’s been helpful in examining my existential angst, but it’s removed me from my art — and I mean the full gamut.
I don’t need to:
- Challenge the status quo;
- Shout the odds;
- Exhort change;
- Repeat what others have said; or
- Be anything other than me.
I think Robert Bly puts it this way:
“If the shadow’s gifts are not acted upon, it evidently retreats and returns to the earth. It gives the writer or person ten or fifteen years to change his life, in response to the amazing visions the shadow has brought him—that change may involve only a deepening of the interior marriage of male and female within the man or woman—but if that does not happen, the shadow goes back down, abandoning him, and the last state of that man is evidently worse than the first. Rilke talks of the shadow retreating in this poem: Already the ripening barberries are red, and the old asters hardly breathe in their beds. The man who is not rich now as summer goes will wait and wait and never be himself. The man who cannot quietly close his eyes certain that there is vision after vision inside, simply waiting until nighttime to rise all around him in the darkness— he is an old man, it’s all over for him. Nothing else will come; no more days will open; and everything that does happen will cheat him— even you, my God. And you are like a stone that draws him daily deeper into the depths.”
Bly, Robert. “A Little Book on the Human Shadow” (pp. 80-81). HarperOne. Kindle Edition.
I don’t know exactly how “the shadow’s gifts” will manifest in 2019 but it feels much more like a concentrated focus on writing and art. As to how much I share, it’s likely to be a lot less. I mean, it’s not like I need to earn attention these days; being small is fine.