Learning to Love the Shadows: Thoughts about Embracing My Past January 10, 2018

Snow Orchard – Jacki Kellum Watercolor

I currently live on the New Jersey Shore, and a few days ago, this entire area was besieged by a brutal snow storm. I usually enjoy watching it snow, but this time, the snow was deep and relentless. I didn’t get out of my house for days, but I spent a great deal of time looking out my windows and tracing the shadows that crawled across the ground. I felt the need to paint the shadows, and I thought about how shadows are part of life.

Most of my art is bright and spontaneous, and it seems to be carefree. Years ago, someone said to me, “I can tell by your art that you are a very happy person.”

I responded: “Looks can be deceiving. Perhaps what you see in my art is that I am trying very hard to be happy.” And that is the beauty of art. On the very best of painting days, I can begin to understand and to rewrite my own positions on life.

“Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance.” Carl Sandburg

I am a writer, as well as a painter, and I primarily write about my own life. For a long time, however, the ghosts of my past scared me away from telling my story. Thank goodness, I finally moved beyond that spot, and what I have learned is that I don’t need to be afraid of the dark patches that have waved throughout my life. Whether we are willing to acknowledge it or not, all of us have these shadows. They are simply part of being alive.

 “Time flies over us, but leaves its shadow behind.” Nathaniel Hawthorne

Ultimately, I agree with the great Mississippi writer:

“The past is not even past.” – William Faulkner

Like the ribbons of darkness stretched across a snowy forest, our memories undulate throughout our lives. When things seem desperate, it might help to remember that even the shadows bear witness to light.

“When walking through the ‘valley of shadows,’ remember, a shadow is cast by a Light.” – Austin O’Malley






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