Falls the Shadow

“Between the idea and the reality, between the motion and the act, falls the shadow.” — T.S. Eliot.

This is not what I had in mind. At some point in time everyone utters those words. No exceptions. Most of you have already said it. And if you haven’t yet… I promise you will.

Maybe it was the vacation you had planned or the house you always imagined you’d buy. Maybe it was the career you thought would last forever or the spouse who promised to love and cherish you “till death do us part.” Perhaps it is in the visions you had for your children, or even the vision that one day you would have children. It might be the health and well-being you expected from your own body.

Whatever it is for you… there is probably something that didn’t turn out the way you planned. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not always a bad thing. Sometimes amazing blessings and miraculous surprises come our way. And that’s what keeps life interesting.

In T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Hollow Men” there is a line that reads: “Between the idea and the reality, between the motion and the act, falls the shadow.” There is much debate over what the entire poem means. And it means lots of different things to different people. But in that particular line I find it interesting to consider “the shadow” to be that grey area that exists between what we pictured in our minds and what we actually have.

If you’re anything like me, you might struggle with reconciling your dreams with your realities. And we may ask ourselves: How do I learn to be content living inside “the shadow”? I think the best we can do is to look around for the surprises… the tiny gems we never even considered to be of such great value: A neighbor who seems to come through just when you need it most. A co-worker who notices whenever you’re having a rough day and encourages you. A friend who knows everything there possibly is to know about you and loves you anyway. Family members who are your biggest fans and cheer you on even when you fall down.

These are the riches found in secret and unexpected places. We may need to write them down. Put them on the fridge or the bathroom mirror… somewhere we’ll always be reminded of them. This way, perhaps we will never forget that even if life doesn’t turn out to be the treasure chest we were expecting… we need to look closer. We will find that it is still a treasure bursting with sparkling jewels… just lying there… in the shadow.

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What I Know So Far

That life picks up speed the older you get.

That no matter your real age… you’ll always be 18… in your mind.

That my parents and teachers were totally telling the truth. About most things anyway.

That I will fall down.

That I will get back up again.

That second chances are extremely rare, so if you get one… seize it.

That opportunity is not something to be questioned, but something to be grasped firmly with both hands.

That the difficult choice and the right choice are usually the same thing.

That reality and expectation never look the same.

That sometimes sadness does not have a name.

That if you aren’t paying close attention, you might miss something wonderful simply because it didn’t arrive in the package you were looking for.

That it is better to be single than to wish you were.

That there is no statute of limitations on finding Mr. Right.

That certain people will never be worthy of my time or energy.

That I can never regret something I did NOT say.

That worrying myself sick about it won’t fix it.

That “laugh lines” are only “charming” if they are on someone else’s face.

That the ones already on my face… are here to stay. And they plan on bringing friends.

That life will NOT look like it does in the brochure.

That that isn’t always a bad thing.

That “normal” is overrated.

That anything can happen to anyone, anywhere at anytime.

That I shouldn’t be so shocked when trouble finds me.

That I shouldn’t be equally as shocked when goodness finds me.

Please, dear readers, leave a comment and add to this list. I’d love to know what all of YOU know so far… Thanks for reading.