The sun was out again. The two wayfarers left the cold of the cave and stepped into the warmth of the day, only to be surrounded by the shadows once again. They were still within the boundaries of shadow land.
“What do they want?!” The boy cried out in exasperation. He was now desperate to get out of this place but the shadows continued to play truant.
“Why don’t you ask them yourself?” The old man replied in his characteristic offhanded way.
“What do you mean, ask them?! Shadows cannot talk!”
“Neither can the wind. And yet, you tell me you were able to understand its language.”
The boy bit his lower lip in thought. He wondered how he could strike up a conversation with shadows. First of all, it felt as if the shadows were not as friendly as how the wind was. Also, the shadows just stayed there, only moving when he did. It seemed as if the shadows were waiting for the boy to make the first move.
“Ahem!” The boy cleared his throat. He turned to look at the old man, who looked back at him and shrugged. “Hello there…” The boy was hesitant. He did not know what to say. The shadows remained still.
“Language my boy, language,” the old man goaded him from behind. “Learn the language of the shadows to speak to them.”
The boy closed his eyes, trying to get some kind of insight into understanding the shadows.
You have come so far. It is a pity you are going to fall here
The boy immediately shot his eyes open. They had talked to him – the shadows. And, they were hostile. He closed his eyes once again.
Guess you don’t have it within you to move further in your quest
That was pretty mean! The boy felt disgusted, angry and slightly troubled. The shadows were out to defeat him, turn him around in an incomplete journey, or push him forward with a broken mind.
We have a fallen soldier out here!
The boy clenched his fists and moved through the thoughts that were threatening to drown him in misery. Many times, he felt himself being pushed back by the intensity of a cruel thought. He kept up with his forward motion though. How long he would be able to keep up was the big question? Wasn’t there any shadow out here who had a good thing to say? Were all the shadows as dark in their intentions as they were in their form? How on earth was he supposed to make peace with them?
“Remember that they are shadows, reflections of the dark. They will be as good to you, as you are to them.” The old man’s voice broke through the boy’s frustrations.
But of course! The boy had been worried, disgusted, and scared of the shadows. How could he expect them to be any different in their own attitude towards him? He took a deep breath and began to grow mindful of the thoughts that leaped out of his head. Slowly, but steadily, he was able to channelize himself towards making peace with the shadows. The more he practiced this sort of mindfulness, the more his emotions became accustomed to the new thinking pattern. Slowly, but surely, his worry, disgust and fear began to fall away, being replaced by determination, understanding and courage.
In the beginning, the shadows refused to listen to the boy’s peace offer. But as he kept up his insistence, they began to slow down their own hatred, moving to a position of calm, and then into diplomatic reciprocation. They began to move away from his path, making space for him to move ahead in his journey.
Looks like you are being fair to us, they said.
“And fair to yourself too,” the old man whispered.
What were the shadows?
If we close our eyes, deliberately slow down our speeding mind, and pay some attention to the chatter of thoughts going on within, we will also notice the downpour happening within. Our shadows – they are the voices and noises that have accumulated within us.
That “I am useless” phrase that some of us tell ourselves (I would have repeated it a zillion times to myself) – it is originally something that someone else has told us, at some point of time in our lives. Our brain, which loves repetitions, is prone to bring this phrase into our minds the minute we fail at doing something. Slowly, this phrase becomes such an intense chant that we eventually fail ourselves by not even trying to do anything, simply because we think we are useless.
And who we think we are, is not really who we are.
The brain is pre-programmed to repeat, and build upon repetitions. The mind, though, can be self-programmed to erase limiting beliefs, and enter fresh, useful codes into the computer system that is our brain.
So, here’s to logging in to the amazing human ability called coding and programming!