Facing the Shadow: “Path” by Apocalyptica

Published October 20, 2011 by Susan Woodward

Wow.  That’s all I have to say every single time I watch this video.  This is such a vivid, fabulous depiction of the inner conflict and facing the “Shadow” inside.  How appropriate for me right now that it is entitled “Path”.

I love the “call and response” between the live performers and the shadowy figures on the wall.  I can especially feel the angst as it builds through the music, and when the “stand off” occurs, I feel the rise within my own soul.

As I continue through this desert path with the sun looking down on me, the only other “living” thing I see is my own shadow.  It is a part of me, both outside and in.  I suppose that part of working through toward solitude is befriending that shadow part of myself.   I know it’s not necessarily the “dark side” of me, but the things that I keep hidden, both consciously and unconsciously.

The conscious parts are easy to discover… the things about myself that I would just as soon keep private and hidden from the world.  Some parts I’m ashamed of, while others are simply just too personal to bring out into the open.

The unconscious parts are much more difficult to discern.  Sometimes things pop up and I ask myself, “Where the hell did that come from?”  “What made me do that?”  “What drives me to want this, that, or the other thing?”  These have a way of coming out unbidden and when they do, I begin to feel anxious and feel almost as if I have to beat them down.  The anxiety comes from not being able to control when or where these behaviors, attitudes, or impulses pop up.   I guess that’s what I see in the video… that struggle for control.   Maybe the darkness of my shadow is my collective fears that I feel the need to conquer.

There’s that pause in the music where the one musician is tapping on his knee, waiting for a response– that silence before the storm of full confrontation.   Then both sides are in a frenzy of conflict and it seems as if the Shadow is conquered… at least for the time being.  But is conquering what I really want here?

The more I think about it, though, the more I seem to believe that I need to be gentler with my Shadow self.   What I think would make the transition toward solace much easier for me is if I befriend those parts of me that are hidden.  And not that the Shadow part is evil… just in darkness, out of sight from everyone else.  For the regrets and shame from things in my past, it would serve me better to acknowledge their presence, know that they will never truly disappear because those things are a part of who I am and who I have become over the years, and to simply let them dwell there in peace without trying to beat them down.  But those will be the easier parts to befriend… the conscious ones.  It’s dealing with parts that pop up by surprise at various times in my life that catch me off guard and cause anxiety… and then the whole “fight or flight” instinct kicks in.  Except, in that situation, that there’s no flight from what’s a part of you… just fight.  I am not sure how to keep that inner part under control so that I don’t end up in full-blown self-conflict and attempting to beat myself down.

Perhaps the conflict I feel inside could be better resolved by taking the time to really LOOK at the conscious parts first.  Heck, since the sun is bearing down on me in this desert, it’s right there all the time.  There’s no hiding it here.   I can allow myself to feel whatever emotions that go along with what I find, and then moving through the desert won’t be as lonely when I befriend myself.  Once I am at peace with those parts, maybe I’ll figure out a way to discover the unconscious parts.    What does lurk deep in my soul?

I’d like to figure out how to get a look at what’s hidden just beyond my view.   There must be a way to tap into what is unconscious and bring it forward… but I think that finding a way to curb the confrontational attitude that I often take toward myself might be a step in the right direction.

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