My partner once dated a German woman who relayed a common German idiom to him. She told him that he was afraid to jump over his own shadow. He was afraid to take a leap of faith (what he feared I do not remember. I was too distracted by the shadow jumping image), he was afraid to step out of his usual pattern, to cause some ripples in his own life.
Since that time the story was told to me, I have carried around the picture of jumping over one’s shadow. When I think about shadows I think about Jung and the shadow self, our buried, negative impulses and actions that wreak havoc on our lives if we do not dig them up and examine them. Maybe, maybe not. I grew up in a house where going to therapy was seen as weak, something West Indians did not do. Therapists were just as touched as some of their clients if not more so. After a little over a year of investigating my shadowy nature (with a therapist), I have determined that there is a lot of fertile ground in those spaces, and a lot of stuff that I do not need to carry around. It’s time to compost that soul garbage.
Like a dark moon, dreaming, sweet sex, midnight snacks, the very early morning, seeds in the earth, so many great things take place in the dark, in spite of the negative associations and attributes foisted upon darkness. It was during the dark hours that I did my own shadow jumping earlier this week. Before the sun came up this Monday past, I set up a GoFundMe page to raise the airfare to a conference. I received a small and significant Diversity Scholarship to attend the Northwest Astrological Conference in Seattle. While the scholarship money would help with food and lodging, getting there would be more of a challenge. I started my GoFundMe story with the sentiment, “leaps of faith make you vibrant!,” when really I felt so sick after sending the page to my family and friends. Leaps of faith can also make you worry, give you an ulcer, make you wander around your apartment and workplace audibly whispering “Oh, no.” After pressing send I was immediately coated in What have I done?? How could I?? I’m so embarrassed!! What will people think?? Putting myself out there in that way (something I never do) was like ripping 10,000 band aids off of my soul, it was like being made to walk the plank -blindfolded!- into shark-filled water. The vulnerability was crushing.
But I did it.
I was scared and I did it. I received some support whether in the form of monetary offerings or words of encouragement from people I hold dear. I was not entirely alone. Whether or not I make the $500 has become less important to me. After the stomach-churning anxiety I felt when I imagined my email reaching various inboxes, I had to make room for oh well, it’s done now. In some ways, this leap was a way to revive my spirit, especially amidst these rough social and political times as America continues to face its own shadows in a way that feels more potent and dangerous. I want to be stronger.
Shadowing jumping is life-giving, it is scary and spirit affirming. It allows you to interact with possibility instead of just thinking about it. It lets you surprise yourself. It builds courage so you can begin to break down your own walls and fight the ones that are being constructed daily at home and abroad.