prompt 149 write a shadow voice poem
What’s a shadow?
Peter Pan had one sewed to his feet. When I was very young Peter meant living adventures fearlessly, being happy enough to fly! Or like for many boys my age, being a cowboy with hat and holster, a role played for fun with an enthusiastic spirit. And I remember when that feeling of play seemed dangerous, unacceptable, the target of ridicule. When those qualities of being me were tucked away in a pocket, mostly unseen. And mostly unfelt.
Carl Jung, the psychologist, suggested that about age seven we separate from then bury whatever parts of ourselves that don’t seem acceptable within our social environment. Those parts set aside become our shadow.
Says Susan Wooldridge, If we’re shy and withdrawn, it’s our shadow who’s doing flamenco dances on a tabletop. If we’re always doing good and being obedient teenagers, it’s our shadow who is sneaking out the window at night, coming back muddy in the dawn. If we’re rebellious, disobedient and procrastinating, it’s our shadow who’s on the honor roll.
My shadow still likes hats – some style or color not quite the ordinary. He’s more playful, spontaneous, not crossing every “t” or dotting every “i”. Even just writing this prompt I’ve had to throw out my first draft and start all over again. That draft was too thoughtful in every detail – making it hard to see the fun in this process now. Yea, I needed to listen better to his voice!
To be more fully who we are, it’s a good idea to invite our shadow to speak now and then. I discovered my shadow was closer than I’d thought. If you ever visited my poem blog, that’s my shadow as a child right there in the header complete with cowboy hat! I had that urge to include his image, however kept that distance of my adult posture of being so so thoughtful in all I usually do. I have really had to listen more to allow his voice room to speak. I’ve worn berets years before they were popular (oh wait, that hasn’t happened yet – but he likes them anyway). But now I’m working to let him more than peek out from time to time. My writing poems are where he comes out more than anywhere else, but I’ve got more allowing to do in letting his voice emerge.
My shadow is more directly honest about feelings than me. Take me or leave me as I am, he says. Me, when I put down a book I’m reading, it’s usually face down so as not to reveal more than needed. My shadow is less guarded than me.
Here’s the practice we suggest.
Make a quiet place, sit down, close your eyes then ask your shadow to come out with you. Your shadow may be uncomfortable at first, sad or weak, maybe frightened, or angry depending how deep and long she or he has been not given voice. This will change as you allow time and opportunity for conversation and addressing his or her desires and needs.
Begin a conversation with your shadow. Listen. If you’re willing, invite her or him to become a part of your life.
Describe her or him. Notice changes over time.
Ask what your shadow needs from you to become a positive influence in your life.
Where can you meet? What would your shadow you to do together?
Make a date to continue this conversation. How often? Let your shadow say.
Write all this down.
Let your shadow write a poem.
There, that’s your prompt for this week.
PS. Got a photo of yourself that more expresses who your shadow is? Might be a child, or maybe not. Might be in other clothes or posture than is usual for you. We’d love to see.
Thanks to Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge for this prompt idea.
Oh the changes! LEAVE YOUR POEM LINKS IN THE COMMENTS FOR THIS POSTING PLEASE.