Yesterday I noticed that little babies all stand on their tippy-toes when they are starting out. Like, if someone has them by their hands and they are encouraging them to walk those first steps. Tippy-Toe-City.
I wondered about that. I even Googled it, and did not find an answer. Other than, it is common during that very first learning-to-walk stage. Do we all start out wanting to be ballerinas? His mother insisted this baby did not want to be a ballerina at all. Then, maybe we all try to be taller. From the very get-go. Or maybe we know to walk lightly on this earth when we start out. Somewhere along the line, our steps get much heavier, thicker, plodding.
Thinking about this. I used to notice my shadow a whole bunch when I was a kid. Shadows were fun back then. We would, collectively, make little characters on the wall. Like bunnies, or flying birds. Or, I would jump in the air and try not to step on my shadow. There were gestures, and games. That shadow. It’s been with me my entire life.
I don’t notice it so much these days. Unless I am walking in a wide open space and the sun is setting behind me. The shadow cast is abnormally long, stretching well beyond my natural height. Like an alien outcast before me.
When those rare moments happen, the 8-year-old in me resurfaces. And I do a little dance, or make a funny shape. The shadow follows my every move. Exactly. Still right there with me, after all this time.
There were a lot of things I did as a kid. And somewhere along the line I quit doing them. Most of the time, some adult would give me fair warning. They would tell me to “stop this or that” in no uncertain times. I always wondered why. And on those days, when I felt especially brave, I would ask. “Why can’t I do that anymore?” Often times, the answer was a mystery to me. “Because I said so.” OR worse yet… “I have my reasons.”
“I have my reasons.” I am sure this is where I found my love for the conspiracy theory. Any conspiracy theory.
On occasion, in those days of long ago, I would grab two socks from my drawer, and put them on my hands. In a flash of a remarkable moment, they would transform into living, breathing characters, exchanging pleasant conversation.
“Look Jocko. It’s starting to rain!” “Oh, no. We might get our feet wet.” And then both the sock puppets would throw their heads backward and laugh hysterically. And so would I.
I believed in the magic for a long time. And then, somewhere, somehow, it went away. The Tooth Fairy disappeared. The Troll under the Bridge left. And the silvery hours of make-believe transformed into responsible measures of growing up. Always wanting to be taller, and older. Wishing my days away. Keeping one step ahead of everyone else…. including that of my very own shadow.
Thankfully, there is a phrase, which continues to be very true in all of life. “This too shall change.”
And so it has. A little older still, and maybe getting wiser. The quiet comes and I listen. And in that place of stillness… I am finding, incredibly…. that magic is returning. I only have to welcome it… and let it in. And once again, step lightly.
“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace Is Every Step