Casting Shadows

On Mondays, we drop Willa off at The Lodge for day camp. One afternoon when I arrived to pick her up, the sun was at just the right angle, allowing me to capture the sign’s shadow on the wall.

Just as every object casts a shadow, every person casts a shadow—both physically and figuratively:

  • Physically, our silhouette against a lighter background.
  • Figuratively, our influence.

Our figurative shadow (influence) falls on those around us. Our words and actions affect those in our sphere of influence. In Note to Self: A Seven-Step Path to Gratitude and Growth I wrote, “Never underestimate the influence you have on others.”

What kind of shadow do you cast?


46 thoughts on “Casting Shadows

  1. Just the difference between greeting someone with a smile or a frown casts the shadow of the kind of interaction I will have with that person. Such good wisdom in your book, Laurie. Loving it.

  2. Every day I think of 2 elderly neighbors that were here when we moved to town nearly 40 yrs. ago. One stood straight as a soldier, which reminds me shoulders back, and the other used too much make-up, which reminds me to use a light hand. We can be good or bad examples that can last for many years.

  3. I am hoping I cast a positive shadow on those around me. It is just as easy to smile and say pleasant things than to frown and be negative. I will keep your words in mind.

  4. I love it that you’ve reminded all of us to think about such a simple, yet wise question. I do think about this question for myself and it matters a lot as I teach writers. You’ve also given me a nugget to use in a novel I’m working on at the moment that was missing something for the protagonist. Thank you!

    • Christine — From personal experience, I know that YOUR mentoring casts a wonderful shadow!

      I’m so glad you got a “nugget” from this post to use in the novel you’re currently working on. Woohoo!

  5. I/we don’t always realize what type of shadow (influence) we may be reflecting. If I’m clear about and centered in curiosity and positive intention, I’m more likely to bring forth something of value or use to another person or group. The ultimate value will be determined by the receiver.

  6. Love the picture Laurie!

    I live in a small close knit community of people over 50. Someone is always watching. Even if you don’t see them, they are watching from the window, sometimes with binoculars. If I miss a day or am late for my morning walk I hear about it later. When we first moved here people laughed at me — a lot. They thought everything about me — the walking, my yoga practice, the meditation, the healthy diet I follow, even the work that I do was all hilarious. When I would complain to Bob he would said,” don’t worry about it. They are watching and they will notice the positive changes and they will want to know more.” Well after three years it is finally starting to happen. There is also more activity in the community. More people are walking. I’ve even found a walking buddy who can keep up with me. A TaiChi class is now being held on Saturday morning by the lake and I had nothing to do with starting it. When I talk about yoga or meditation people ask questions intead of breaking out into laughter.

    I believe with all my heart that the way to change is world is by example. However it can be a long and sometimes frustrating walk. Most of the time we have no idea what influence we may be having on others. Then once in awhile we get a little glimpse that makes us smile. 🙂

    • Espirational — I love, Love, LOVE the example you shared here. Oh my gosh, that’s fantastic!

      And you’re absolutely right, “…the way to change the world is by example.”

      Thank you for your contribution to today’s post 🙂

  7. I try to cast a good shadow Laurie, but lately, every good intention ends up becoming a caricature or travesty of what was intended. I think for a few weeks I need to just be and leave my good intentions on the shelf. Perhaps for a while my shadow needs to be a person sitting on the porch swing reading a good book.

  8. Laurie, I’d like to think that I cast a fat and jolly shadow, one that will bring a smile to people’s faces
    Sometimes I’m afraid that the shadow might be small and crabby, or too tall, skinny and aloof. Most days though I am just glad that I can still throw one!.

  9. Hi Laurie,

    My intention is to cast a figurative shadow that gets people thinking about our relationships to each other, and the biophysical environment that we exist in, in ways that increase the security and freedom available for all of us.

    And my understanding of the notion of complexity is such that I am clear that all levels of complexity require both a cooperative basis and a minimal set of boundary conditions for their survival.

    And those boundaries cannot be too hard. Hard boundaries become brittle and break. Boundaries need to be flexible and responsive to the context of the moment in ways that actually work at promoting the security and freedom of all.

    To some it may seem weird to claim that freedom requires boundaries, yet that does in fact seem to be reality.

    At higher levels of awareness, the minimum set of boundaries is something like “morality” – which is not to say that any existing morality is such a minimum set, and it is to say that all existing moralities probably approximate such a thing to a sufficient degree to have survived thus far.

    So with a bit of luck, my shadow will be of benefit to all, and that is certainly my intent.

  10. I’m 6′ 1″ tall, so when the sun is low in the sky here in the northern part of the country, I cast a very lon-n-n-g shadow. 😉

    Seriously though, I was paging through my high school year books after running into a guy from the old neighborhood (he lived less than a block from me!) Several people wrote in my yearbook that I was “a nice guy,” “funny,” “made them smile,” etc. So I figure I’ve carried that forward some 45 years later and have a generally positive effect on people with whom I interact because I don’t take myself or life too seriously and prefer to find the humor in all things and situations. Therefore, my shadow is a happy shadow. 🙂


  11. Casting a shadow is alas an eternal concern, and I am ever cognizant of decision-making that will foster the most positive influence of my offspring. Alas my shadow is light and dark, measured and haphazard, cautious and free-spirited.

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