The first thing I noticed was that neither of her feet were touching the ground – that there’s an absolutely free moment in the process of running when all that sweaty effort is effortless. We’re flying. And then I considered that moment – that moment of soaring – as a metaphor for every moment of our lives. I didn’t really understand what I meant but it sounded right. (Writing tip: Avoid always understanding what you mean.) Ideas toyed with me. The truth resides between moments and steps. To live is to float on the ocean of substance. There is no ground upon which no one stands.
Listen to your wild ideas. Run with them.
The next thing I noticed was her shadow, how her shadow is the contrast that highlights her floating and it appears to be outpacing her. What happens when your shadow takes the lead? I thought about my last relapse into alcoholism. Did you ever do something bad or wrong and when people asked “Why did you do that?”, you just didn’t know? And the harder you think about why you do anything, the less you know about everything? Sometimes my daughter is just straight up vile and acts like The Devil. Should I try to change her or should I, rather, try to develop sympathy (whoo whoo) for her sour moods? This led to reflecting on the impossibility of outrunning your shadow or disassociating completely from the darker aspects of your personality.
What would happen to the way our culture understands and relates to itself and others if emphasis shifted from running away from our shadows to a serious inquiry into how to constructively run with our shadows? Because they’re not going away. We need them. Indeed, we are their reflections in the mirror we call real life.
The next thing I noticed was that she was about to heel strike and the unconventional way her arm extends behind her body. We need to have a serious discussion about form.
The next thing I noticed was how she seems to be toeing the line of the crosswalk and may even soon cross its boundary. This made me smile. It’s such an accurate representation of the little girl she has always been. Walking the line. Crossing it as soon as she thinks no one is looking. A disregard for safety in the spirit of adventure. Running full speed. Going for it. Not looking back. She is her father’s daughter and, even though I’m the parent, the authority figure who scolds her and “keeps her in line”, my shadow applauds her fearless approach to running in the street.
And then (this is not actually chronological; it’s more like a mashed up collage of thoughts having a conversation), I just became aware of loving her. So tall and thin. When did she get so big? Her flopping blonde mop (gold, riches). Her blue top and black shorts (bruises, pain). Her body and shadow in frozen motion, an instant in space and time, holding up the endless past and future and all 6 directions (wholeness).
Wholeness. What a pleasure to cross the street.
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