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light should kill shadows, shouldn’t it?

(iv. shadow friendship)

As far away as people try to go, as remote a corner as they can find, I don’t believe they can ever be truly alone in this world. Even awake, when I feel most vulnerable, I never feel quite alone. There are always friends to care for me. I try always to keep in mind that the simplest way to escape solitude is by becoming closer to others. Yet all too often people keep others at a distance, afraid to lose a friendship before they even shake hands for the first time.

As I stare at this hospital room, it is now well after dusk. I have turned off the light in my room, and the darkness falls like an instant sunset. The moonlight sneaks in through the cracks in the blinds and fills the room with shadows. It fills me with happiness because the shadows, too, are always there for me. They are true friends, so I can never be lonely. And they make me laugh, too.

All humor comes from these shadows. Laughter hides itself in the darkness, in the corners that few people stop to see. That is why it is funny when someone finds humor and shares it with us. We laugh at the surprise; we laugh together.

These shadows follow us faithfully everywhere in life. But for some reason, people have become frightened of their shadows lately. It must be difficult for people to believe that they have a friend that is with them always. Shadows do make good friends, really. After all, they want us to laugh. They want us to laugh with them.

Yet it is harder to find humor in the shadows these days. It becomes more and more so as the shadows feel the friendship fading. People today ignore their shadows. They steal looks of themselves in pocket mirrors instead. People try desperately to look for truth in a mirror image that they know is backwards. Yet even while we betray them, the shadows remain with us always.

iv. shadow friendship
iv. shadow friendship
...the shadows were there in all the dark space surrounding you. They were the only ones still hugging your body from all sides.

To continue as friends with people, the shadows have already made so many concessions. Most obviously, their humor has changed. Have you noticed? It has become more black and shady. The shadows are very sarcastic now. It used to be that if you turned on a light, the shadows would yell, pretending to die, but then laugh and disappear. Because light should kill shadows, shouldn’t it?

But light doesn’t kill shadows anymore. Try it yourself. The more lights you turn on, the more angles you turn them, the brighter the intensity: the shadows just grow larger and darker. And they laugh, sarcastically and spitefully, the shadows laugh.

The only time shadows seem to disappear is in darkness. If you turn out all the lights, the shadows vanish. You cannot see them at all. Of course you can’t see their humor, either. Shadows grow more serious in the dark.

Even this seriousness is a compromise the shadows have had to make to stay friends. People have terrible changes of mood. It is not easy to put up with, but the shadows remain devoted. Only last night I saw how compassionate they could be. I hazarded past the Doctor’s office well past her quitting time. I thought she had gone home because the lights were turned off, but she saw me in the doorway and beckoned me in. She was sitting on a stool in the darkness, with a frown stretching her face. She told me she often liked to sit there alone, and that she felt better this way. How humble and modest the shadows were! They didn’t even speak, but I know the shadows were there with her.

Reader, the Doctor doesn’t appreciate how loved she is. I hope that at least you will realize it. Think back now to your saddest memory, the lowest moment of your life. I know you will say that shadows don’t care about you, that you don’t remember seeing any friends in that dark hour. But the shadows were there in all the dark space surrounding you. They were the only ones still hugging your body from all sides. Isn’t that true friendship, really? Because at these moments of darkness, there is nothing softer than shadow, and nothing dimmer than eyes.

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