Friday, April 17, 2009
Shadows of the Self
Lately, I have been thinking about shadows of the self. It all started when Sergio and our son, Julian argued the merits of a bloody warrior show they watched online. We then attended the theater to see "Native Son." Via the play, "evil" led me to think of 'individuality'; I see this as a main theme in Richard Wright's novel...
Also echoed by Oscar Wilde in DeProfundis:
It is tragic how few people ever ‘possess their souls’ before they die. ‘Nothing is rarer in any person,than an act of their own.' Most people are other people.
Their thoughts are some one else’s opinions,
their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.”
In the play Native Son, the main character is a repressed and poor black man who owns nothing 'but the shirt on his back'. His act of violence is the one thing that makes him feel 'whole.' Thus, via a horrible act (murder)-he is able to "possess his soul"-to be.
I think this is something that has many messages for us as human beings; not only that which was intended by Wright: an outcry for humanity, but I also see it as a cry onto ourselves: We must allow our souls to fully manifest in our lives- "good" and "bad".
Indeed, when I think of myself above "evil", I deny myself the knowledge that I make "good" choices rather than "bad" choices"-denying not only my shadow, but failing to recognize my light.
Good and evil are equally potent and equally a part of us. Indeed, evil holds within it as much passion and power as good. Both carry weight that is not lifted unless we care for it. Both need to be recognized.
Only when we embrace our shadow can we truly accept ourselves.
Often, our shadow is that within us which we deny in ourselves and project onto others. Much like Peter Pan- and his want to disengage from his shadow....to "un-own" it, we need to realize that our shadow self is an integral part of us...and "deal with it" then, we can live our lives soulfully!
Think about something you "hate" or dislike in someone- most things we are judgemental and critical of directly reflect our shadow. Be honest about your judgements of others- and you will find yourself within. For example: If I am judging the obsessed manner in which my friend maintains all her documents filed, labeled and indexed- I can ponder on that honestly, and see clearly that my criticism of her is not but a reflection of my shadow. A reminder of how very disorganized I am in regards to paperwork!