Quotes: Wholeness

“A man is whole only when he takes into account his shadow.”

– Djuna Barnes

This quote, at first seems like some sort of abstract poetry. Maybe it is. But it does hold some amount of truth. Your shadow is not you, but it is caused by you. By extension, it is part of you. But to me, this quote is not really about your actual shadow.

 What even is a shadow? A shadow is a dark spot created by an object interfering with rays of light, blocking them from lighting that particular spot. Your shadow is a dark spot caused by you blocking the light from touching a particular spot. You have prevented the light from touching something else.

But like I said, it’s not actually about your shadow. It’s about the things that you prevent, or in some cases, the things that you cause. Every decision or action that you make has consequences for everyone and everything around you.

(*Nerd Alert!* Also **SPOILERS for DOCTOR WHO** Proceed with caution)

Have any of you seen the Doctor Who episode Turn Left? In this episode, Donna, The Doctor’s companion, is forced back in time to make a different decision: turn left instead of right. Because of this decision, she gets a different job, and doesn’t meet the man she was going to marry, which means she never met the doctor. Since she never met The Doctor, she wasn’t able to save him. Without the doctor, London ends up destroyed, taken over by Alien lifeforms and basically the world just sucks.


This is, of course, quite dramatic. Your decision to turn left instead of right is not likely to destroy a major city and ruin the lives of literally everyone, but it can still have an impact. Maybe if you would have turned right, you would have caused an accident, even indirectly.

Today I experienced negative results from someone else’s seemingly harmless decision. My local public library has two tables near enough to outlets to be able to plug your computer in to charge. When I arrived, one person had left their tablet plugged in to charge, and they were no where to be seen. I couldn’t take that table in case someone had already claimed that table. The other table was taken by an old man reading a newspaper. For those of you who don’t know, newspapers don’t take electricity. A wild concept, I know. So I was forced to sit at a table without an outlet, risking running out of battery before I could finish my work.

For those of you worried, I was able to snag the old man’s table after he left. But if he hadn’t left when he did, I wouldn’t have been able to finish my work. Obviously this isn’t a major problem, but it is a small way that people impact others without even realizing it.

To me, that is what this quote is about. It’s about realizing that our actions affect others, acknowledging that they do, and being aware of our actions in the future. In order to be whole, we must be aware of the effect we have on others.



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