But this past weekend, I started thinking about this again. This shadow play place that I love so much. Loved so much. Because I do not love it so much anymore. I like it still. There is a familiarity in this shadowing place. A welcoming and a safeness that is provocative and inviting. So maybe love is the right word. But before there was also a beckoning and that does not happen so much anymore.
Perhaps this is why I am able to write about it now, because it is not the place I love the best.
When I loved the shadows most I loved them because I felt them the most. It was a time in my life - there were many times in my life - when I was sad. Deeply. And with that sadness came a loss of feeling most other feelings.
Yes, there were moments of joy and happiness. Moments I would see my children and love them deeply. Moments when a run in the woods with my dogs would fill my soul and still my heart. But these feelings were not ones that I was able to access at these times when sadness was my constant companion. And so I loved him. (He is a him) Sadness. I loved his darkness and his warmth. I loved his lush breath and the way that he enveloped me in a cocoon of softness.
I loved him because I felt him.
When I was sad - and was it really sad? - in those days of deep depression, when the only feeling that I really felt was the feeling of him. And feeling him, this was so much better than feeling nothing. And so I would enter the shadows hungrily and I often did not want to leave. It felt good in here and I did not care that the light outside, she had gifts to offer me.
My shadow play was not always with me. He led me inside occasionally when I was growing up, but only held me in his arms once for any significant length of time back then. I was living in New York and dancing at Tisch at NYU. I was a dance major without the ability to dance having had surgery on a toe that was fractured and chose to disintegrate rather than heal. It was a defining moment in my journey as a dancer because I really did not want to be one anymore and so this injury, it was an opportunity to shift direction. Still it was sad - ah that sweet space of despair - and I sat in it for the entire time I lived in New York before heading back to Massachusetts to finish college.
And then there were no shadows for many years. Until postpartum nestled into my bones followed by a winter wonderland of seasonal depression that lasted fourteen long years of October-thru-April-I've-just-gotta-get-through-this-winter-and-things-will-be-fine and then two more long years of transition and introspection and self-discovering and growth that could only have happened within the shadows of my mind.
I got a lot done in this shadowy space. In this time spent in this place of darkness that is warm and knows me well. And that, coupled with the truth that the deep emotions that live in the shadows were my only emotions, well... why would I not want to sit here. In these shadows that held me gently.
And then the light crept in.
It was not like the shadow space was not still inviting. It was not like that feeling of sadness that offers an intensity of emotion was not still tempting to sit in. It was not that I did not sometimes - do not sometimes - still miss standing complete in shadow.
It is that it is lonely here. For when I stood in shadow I stood alone. For along with keeping out the light my shadow sentinel kept out all others.
And so we made an agreement.
As I write this I have this lovely image in my mind. When I was back east I took a walk on the Appalachian Trail. Not for long. Just a short bit of trail but the sunlight was strong though still low in the sky and the shadows played against the warmth of this light. It is this image that captures my shadow play now. An intermingling of light and dark. Of light and shadow. And I can play in the coolness for a moment or more but he will not be my only friend.