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Wayne Hinshaw column: My shadow

Sometimes in the heart of the cold winter’s grasp, feeling a bit melancholy but with time to contemplate the problems of the world both important and foolish, I’m sitting here thinking about my shadow. Yes, my shadow.

You know, it is that little, but sometimes big, dark-like figure that follows me around when the lightwaves from the sun strike me. It is mostly following me on the ground, but at times it might climb a wall beside me. It looks a lot like me, but it is an imperfect shape of me.

Sometimes my shadow is very small, only a few feet tall, but at other times, depending on the time of day or the season of the year, my shadow grows taller and larger than life. I can see the darkness of my shadow, but I can see all the way through my shadow. Could my shadow be a ghost or evil? Should I be afraid of my shadow? It seems harmless enough. It seems like a dark, blurred mirror of me, but on a sunny day, it will not go away from me.

If I walk very fast or run, it stays right by my side. Sometimes it is on my left side, but if I turn, it jumps to my right side just as quickly as I can turn. Could it be my soul?

No, I guess not. Everyone knows you can’t see your soul.

My shadow must be afraid of darkness, for when the darkness of night attacks the lightness of day, my shadow runs away somewhere and hides. Darkness is the only time I am relieved of the burden of my shadow. I would like to see where my shadow goes in the dark, but it will not let me follow. On a sunny day, if I walk into the woods, my shadow must surely play with me by hiding behind the trees and playing tricks on me, then it reappears when I see sunlight.

If my shadow was really me, would the sunlight shine through me, too? I guess not, since I am not transparent. I know my shadow is real. It has to be real, but when I try to touch it, my hand swings though empty air. I can touch a tree or a rock and they are real. Maybe my shadow is not real, at least not real like a rock or a tree.

If I fall down, when I look over to my side, there lies my shadow all curled up beside me. It didn’t protect me from falling, but it hit the ground also. Only a good friend would take the fall to the ground with me. I suppose I should call my shadow a good friend. If I do something stupid, my shadow is right there with me unless darkness scares it away or it is resting at night.

I can’t see my shadow’s face. It doesn’t have a face. It is a shadow with an imperfect outline of me, but it doesn’t share my features. My shadow doesn’t even leave footprints in the sand at the beach, but it quietly follows me? I don’t think it likes the water of the ocean. It won’t go into the water.

As a photographer, people with their shadows help give dimension and depth to my subjects. It can also be my enemy when it hides my subject in darkness. Sometimes, I use my camera’s flash of light to run the shadow away for a split second.

I think I know what my shadow is.

Conchitina R. Cruz writes, “What is a shadow? It is a self without a face or a name, all outline and no feature, the self on the verge of being erased. It is the incidental child of matter and light. Look how it spreads itself on the ground, weary but weightless, unable to leave a trace.”



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