All of creation has shadows. But, according to this ancient tale, those shadows have different meanings and significance for different creatures:
It had been dark in the Valley of the Hopeful People for many years. Then, one day, the sun broke through the darkness. In their fear, the people squinted and covered their eyes. But when they opened them, their fear increased. Each one was followed by someone or something they could not escape, no matter how quickly they ran from it. They did not know shadows.
The Soothsayer, who held a memory of the sun, gathered the people around her. “Calm down. You have nothing to fear. Whenever light appears, shadows appear. They will be your companions wherever you go, as long as there is light.
"Notice the bird flying through the air, its shadow following it closely. Birds are not bothered by their shadows, which are always in front of them.
"However, we humans are not used to our shadows. When humans walk, their shadow falls behind them. This is because humans are always facing forward toward the future.
"Unlike humans, birds are always facing the present. They are not concerned with the future but only with the here and now. So birds are delighted to have their shadows before them as a reminder of the present.
But we humans are often afraid of our shadows. They remind us of the past and trigger our fear of the future. As a result, we try to run from our shadows but can never escape them.
"The bird is freer than the human is. It knows that its shadow is a part of it and is not afraid. Today was the first time you met your shadow trailing behind you. But, then, you felt trapped, not free, because you did not know your shadow was part of you.
"The bird and the human are different, but they are also the same. Both have shadows, and they must discover how to live with them. They are learning and growing —the bird learning to live in the present by accepting its shadow, and the human learning to face the past and the future by embracing its shadow.
So Hopeful People of the Valley, know that you and the bird
are both on a journey and headed in the same direction — toward the light,
which reveals your shadows, so you can befriend them."
Reader, today, go out and walk toward the light. Then look over your shoulder and befriend your shadow.