Just weeks ago our shadows were beneath our feet, hiding from the sun. Now the sun is slowly starting to fall lower on the horizon and our shadows are beginning to lengthen again. I’ve been considering this as I contemplate how I dance with my shadow.

When I refer to the “shadow,” I mean that part of us that we keep hidden from others and perhaps even our conscious selves. It could be a secret, a fear, pain or trauma, or just something we aren’t comfortable with. Maybe something we’re afraid others might judge if they see it. But in hiding or ignoring our shadow, we cut off a piece of who we truly are. And we cannot heal when we are not whole.

It was scary for me to consider dancing with my shadow, let alone inviting it to confront me. But as with most partner choreography, we are equals learning how not to step on the toes of one another, and hoping to create a beautiful and joyful experience of movement. So I invited it in, slowly and surely, going at my own pace – a prelude to the dance.

Now, how can I dance with my shadow of fear or anger? The only way how: Practice! I practice holding my shadow at arms length, a formal waltz, feeling it’s form. We trip and my anxiety gets to me. We start again, with curiosity about what my shadow has to teach me. These shadows are present to show us that which we may not see as we try to face the sun. But turning slowly around, we see that which is also us, moving exactly in sync.

Every time my shadow appears I try to practice my dance. We’re still on the waltz but I hope we graduate to the tango, grasping each other closer, tighter. Maybe someday we’ll slow dance, heads on shoulders.

by Nick Venegoni, MA