Friday, February 8, 2013

Enlightened in the Shadows

Candace Nirvana - 020813 - SB
The typical view of shadows is that they conceal ... thus phrases such as "lurking in the shadows."   To me, though, shadows are quite enlightening and expose more truth than the bright light of day.   In the shadows, masks drop and the hidden desires are revealed.

In a literal sense, I discovered very early in my Photoshopping career that  reality is whatever the shadows say it is.  How do you know that male model has abs of steel?  The shadows tell you so.   How do you know that beautiful woman has a flat tummy and perfect skin?  The absence of shadows tells you so.   Setting, mood, tone ... all can be understood - or altered- through shadow.

Metaphorically - and more vitally - shadows are not absolute.  They are endless shades on a vast spectrum.   It's impossible to tell exactly where they begin or end, and to define them by a single pixel is meaningless.   Simply put, nothing is black and white, it's all glorious shades of gray.   Stay with me here a moment longer, dear readers ...   wait for it ... 

We ARE the shadows.   The human experience is never absolute, despite our neurotic penchant for categorization and labels.   No real, honest, self-aware person is ever so easily defined.   Liberal/Conservative.   Straight/Gay.   Wise/Naive.   Happy/Sad.   Ambitious/Lazy.   White/Black.   Young/Old.   Dominant/Submissive.  Generous/Selfish.  Wild/Boring.  None of these define us.  All of these define us.  They are extreme points on a spectrum, on which we may lounge near the midpoint, cling stubbornly to the far right or left, or bounce wildly from day to day, experience to experience.  

Just as photographers may experiment with shifting light and shadows to express very different visions, each of us is a daily experiment in shadow ... concealing, exposing, emphasizing, downplaying elements of ourselves.   The challenge is to do so consciously!  The best of artists have purpose ... a method to their madness.   So too the greatest of people consider why they choose what they choose.  Are you trying to gain social acceptance?  Are you perpetuating a familial pattern?  Are you parroting others without independent thought?   Are you rebelling for purpose or for rebellion's sake?   There are no right or wrong answers - shadows are not good or bad - seize your own power and be conscious enough to shape them with your light!

Both Sides - 020813 - Miz B

I've always tried to embrace the complexities of myself and been rather offended by attempts to pigeonhole me.   Meredith Brooks' song "Bitch" has been an anthem of sorts for my life and career ... she says it better than I can!

I hate the world today
You're so good to me
I know but I can't change
Tried to tell you
But you look at me like maybe
I'm an angel underneath
Innocent and sweet
Yesterday I cried
Must have been relieved to see
The softer side
I can understand how you'd be so confused
I don't envy you
I'm a little bit of everything
All rolled into one

I'm a bitch, I'm a lover
I'm a child, I'm a mother
I'm a sinner, I'm a saint
I do not feel ashamed
I'm your hell, I'm your dream
I'm nothing in between
You know you wouldn't want it any other way

So take me as I am
This may mean
You'll have to be a stronger man
Rest assured that
When I start to make you nervous
And I'm going to extremes
Tomorrow I will change
And today won't mean a thing

Just when you think, you got me figured out
The season's already changing
I think it's cool, you do what you do
And don't try to save me

I'm a bitch, I'm a tease
I'm a goddess on my knees
When you hurt, when you suffer
I'm your angel undercover
I've been numb, I'm revived
Can't say I'm not alive
You know I wouldn't want it any other way


  1. Thomas Stearns Eliot:
    Between the idea
    And the reality
    Between the motion
    And the act
    Falls the Shadow

    Good lyrics.

    Hell of a Woman

    D.L. Wood

    1. D.L. - I really appreciate that T.S. Elliot quote. We all live in the shadows and forget to look at that side of our humanity.

  2. Oooohhh that's my new favorite shadows quote ... captures so perfectly that mysterious, undefined realm where the magic happens in the shadows!! ~Miz B


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