Thursday, September 13, 2007

In Whose Shadow Do You Linger?

We absorb so much from the community around us and the greats of the past. As writers we tend to explore and admire the artists who rose to the top of their profession (often post humorously) and have been remembered and revered across generations. Our work is shaped and formed by what we've read and sometimes it's easy to lose ourselves in the voices of others.

I was wandering around yesterday in search of some intriguing insights into the strange cycles of a writer's life and stumbled across a few essays by Phil1861. It looks like Phil wrote these essays in very dark times, when nothing would come and he felt, as most (perhaps all) of us do from time to time, that we would forever labor a meaningless existence. I enjoyed reading his thoughts, so many of them echoing my own, and his poetic, if rather convoluted, tone.

One particular essay captured my imagination and inspired me to consider the depth of involvement we have when we read others works. Insight and amazing clarity showed through this piece and he captured a remarkable truth.

"In Their Shadows" by Phil1861

I am destined to always wonder if I will ever cast a shadow as long as Tolstoy, Whitman, Joyce, or Hemmingway.

... the shadows [] teach; they help me reach where I could not reach before. They help me hone my own skills and imagination. Yet the shadows are lonely places, dark and without the sunlight. The shadows are filled with the voices of others, crying out in the darkness and seeking the light for their own shadows. The shadows of the greats prevent our own shadows from being, from existing. It is a place that I cannot stay for long periods of time, as I begin to fall into melancholy and wonder where the sun is...

What I found most profound from the metaphor in this snippet of Phil's essay is that Phil realized, while in the shadow of others he could cast none of his own.

We must step away from mentors and masters; step out of their shadow and into the harsh sun of reality. Ultimately, it is only when we've stepped away from the guides that shape us, when we feel the glare of criticism and risk baring ourselves in the light that we have the opportunity to cast the shadows of our own souls, our own words, perhaps to offer the guiding shade for those who come behind.

In whose shadow do you linger? Whose do you return to for comfort and a burst of refreshing shade?

The world is washed in shadows and while they serve an important purpose on our paths of life there comes a point where we all must step into the sunlight. If only it didn't feel so much safer in the shade...

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Blogger Rebecca Laffar-Smith said...

It's interesting to realize I have two "shadows" related entries together. *chuckles* I must be in a clandestine mood.

Also, forget the 'posted' date. I was attempting to prepublish something hoping it would launch itself tomorrow instead of today. DOH! Obviously that didn't work.

Oh well, you all get a treat a day early I suppose. ;-) Hope you enjoy the entry.

9:55 AM  

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