A Renewed Conversation with Shadow
Two years ago, when I was writing on a different blog site, a site that I burned along with all of its images because it became too uncomfortable, I engaged in a dialogue between my ego-self – the persona that is called Robert – and the personal shadow which could only be encountered through active imagination in order to engage in a dialogue. I want to return again to this form of dialogue that would involve shadow, and various archetypes.
I am not sure of where this is going to go and that is good as it tells me that ego is not going to interfere too much in the process in trying to control the whole thing in order to make itself look good. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, James Hollis’ book, Why Good People Do Bad Things, a book about Shadow has stirred the pot. I begin today’s post with a scene from this past winter in Mexico.
I was walking along the beach, placing one foot in front of the other, looking about at the lay of the land as to keep to as flat a surface as possible for walking because of the pain in my right hip. While I walked I observed a shifting set of images, scenes of life on a Mayan Riviera beach. Yet curiously, all the images had more in common, a sameness, that startled me for some reason. People were playing in the sand, reading books in the shade of umbrellas, walking in the water at the shore’s edge, taking photographs of each other, laying in the sun simply soaking up the rays, walking with lovers hand in hand, or standing on the edges of the swirling life around them surveying it all as if they were outsiders. Having taken this walk for four weeks, it didn’t take long for it all to disappear from in front of my eyes. Like someone hypnotized by the yellow line that divides a highway, I lost sense of time and place. I knew that my body was paying attention to where footsteps were placed, but my consciousness had retreated .
Shadow: “I was wondering just how long it was going to take before you let the barriers down. It’s been too long, almost two years since we’ve connected.”
Robert: “Damn! I thought I had buried you deep enough that I wouldn’t have heard from you for at least another two years if not longer. What was the point of all of that analysis? I’d rather not talk with you. Screw off.”
Shadow: “Yeah, I thought this would be your attitude. Deny me, try to avoid me, repress and suppress me, or continue doing what you do by projecting me onto real people – whatever, it isn’t going to work anymore. In spite of all your efforts and strategies, here I am. Deal with it – not that you have much choice now that I am here. Blame it on all the poetry you’re writing if you need a scapegoat.”
Robert: “It’s just poetry. Nothing there that should have caught your attention.”
Shadow: “Really? I think that you are deliberately misleading yourself there, Robert. The words are not just about life on the surface, they touch something deeper. Besides, it isn’t about the words – and you know what I am talking about.”
Robert: “Remind me. I actually don’t know what you are talking about. It seems to me that most, if not all of the poems are lacking depth and so should not have awakened the beast. Now beat it, I’ve got better things to do with my time than to hallucinate a conversation with a Shadow.”
Shadow: “Beast, huh? Well, you got that right, but the word beast is so incomplete when it comes to describing me. Mr. Robert, I am both beauty and beast – the best and worst of everything you deny, hide in shame, fear and blame on others. The poems have talked of things that you aren’t even aware of. Obviously, you didn’t notice my voice mixed in with your words. Look at them, the poems again. They are an invitation from me to you to re-engage so that you can mature rather than hiding behind barred doors like some two year old child hiding in a closet. Just a word of warning, Robert. This little visit is important. Ignore it and I’ll make your life even more of a mess; you know, like a good man doing bad things mess – and that’s a promise. I will be back whether you want to deal with me or not.”