Lets call it the Shadow.

http-equiv=”CONTENT-TYPE” content=”text/html; charset=utf-8″> name=”GENERATOR” content=”OpenOffice.org 2.4 (Win32)”> So, you set a goal in life—you want to finish university. You want to be able to run the 5 minute mile. You want to get the girl of your dreams. You want to be able to cook an omellette without burning it. You want to only smoke one pack of cigarettes per day. You want comb your hair before you go to work.

There’s always something new that you can set yourself to do, and the Shadow always follows you. And it’s never far behind. Mind you, the Shadow isn’t all that bad—you know it well, it seldom disagrees with you. It’s one of those things that you’re most familiar with. When you with the Shadow, things are simple—you can sit down with it and just cool off outside of the glare of the heavens. If there is one thing you can always learn from the Shadow, it’s how to avoid the eyes of the heavens.

But at the same time, spending too much time with the Shadow in the wrong way is unhealthy for you, in many ways. You start to become colder and more complacent to the ways of humanity, and you approach the methods of the undead. Do you remember the Hans Christian Andersen story? The Shadow might even trap you in its place to live in the ways that you never took advantage of.

Now, if I was to start describing this in more concrete terms (though this is an abstract sort of idea), I would have to say that the happiest people are those who understand the importance of the pace and place of their Shadows. Your Shadow is everything that you are familiar with—it is who you are, and the way you decide to look at the world around you, as well as how you do things to connect you and your world. If you try nothing new, that is because you are wallowing in the company of the Shadow. You risk no sunburns, but, at the same time, your eyes seek no explanations for the lights around you. You essentially see nothing in the dark—you only know what you already knew.

When you go after one of those lights, or when you guess that there may be something even further beyond those stars that you can’t yet see, you leave your Shadow behind. It follows you, of course (it can’t live without you!) but slowly—it is familiarity after all, so it just makes sense that whenever you try something new it takes a while before all of you can really get there. And make no mistake—you and your Shadow are one, even if you may temporarily be separated when you try to jump or fly—you can go nowhere that the Shadow can’t eventually get to.

Whenever you put some distance between you and the Shadow, you feel it though. What is it? It is that delta between reality and supposition, that rouses the life in you with the basest of physiological symptoms: a quickened heartbeat, sharpened senses, sweaty pores. Is that fear? Excitement? Love? Hatred? Lust? Greed?

Whatever it is, it is not contentment that characterizes your going ahead of your Shadow—it is curiosity or a want of something else.

The happiest people I know have figured out some way to balance a healthy relationship with their Shadow. When you need a break, it’s nice to just spend time with it. It’s not only fun to just catch up on the way things are/were, but it’s necessary so that you don’t go insane. You need to come to terms with who you are, which is the space in between you and that Shadow. That is your substance.

Because, for every step you take away from your Shadow, your heatbeat quickens or the amount of stress on your brain increases. If you go too far, and your Shadow loses sight of you, oh the terror! You can’t see it either. It’s that feeling as if everything you ever knew just disappeared. In that moment where you doubted everything you’d ever done, when you were nothing but regret, that was because you looked about you and realized that you’d gone somewhere so far into the burning day that you were blinded and could no see.

Some people don’t like who they are, and they blame it, but the object of that blame is the history and subatnce that manifests that Shadow. So they run, and they run. And without the Shadow, they burn, and are doomed to be swallowed by the sea as their waxy wings scatter around them.

Some people are narcissists and they love themselves too much—their best company is the Shadow. Like dwarves they live in the mountains and though their crasftmanshin in things old of ways old is unparalleled, they live in caves dank and chill.

Either way, a person who doesn’t know how to get along with their Shadow will be lost.

The question really is how far ahead of one’s Shadow should one go? How long should one stay in the company of one’s Shadow?

And if one is lost, either from being too far in the burning light or being too deep in the obscurity of shadow, how does one make things right again?

There needs to be a trigger to break the absolute. When people are lost, there needs to be a trigger. Surprisingly, it’s seldom that people are too far in the light or too far in the dark in any absolute sense—it’s simply that for various reasons, people’s relationships with their Shadows aren’t good.

Solution: go the way of the Ninja. Learn to hide and rest in the Shadows (not not necessarily your own, even!). Keep your eyes open for opportunuity, and when you see it, then you strike. And do so with haste. And when you are done, melt into the Shadows again.

There are always risks.