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Chasing My Shadow

June 8, 2012

‘Running Shadow’ by Farbod at

My shadow has a heartbeat.  It goes bum-bum-ba-dum-bum-ba-dum-dum.  My shadow has a voice.  It calmly says “Time. Eleven. Minutes. Forty. Eight. Seconds.”  My shadow eats the ground, chewing up the pavement and spitting it out.  It’s always heading west.  And I’m always chasing it.

I build scaffolding in my mind – ideas about what my relationships are like, plans about what my future will be, intentions about what I’ll do today, notions of who I am.  It’s all just chasing shadows.  The only difference is that when I run, I’m doing it honestly.  I have time to think, and suddenly I see so much more than that shadow on the ground.

I started running not based on any present need nor any current desire.  It’s something I do in order to reassure myself that all my future plans will come to fruition.  I do it so I can feel less anxious about something that hasn’t even happened yet.  But look at me! I’m running!  That’s real so the future I’m doing it for has to be real too, right?

There’s something I want so badly, but I didn’t know how badly until I was disappointed – not for the first time or the third, but an uncountable number of repeated disappointments.  I like to think I’m unattached, full of patience and equanimity and not at all emotional.  But this one last disappointment left me crying all out of the blue.

I realized then that every plan I make is just scaffolding to prop me up with hope.  I can survive no having what I want today by planning on getting it tomorrow.  Not such a big deal, people do it all the time, but there’s a deeper delusion here.  I can let myself think I’m not too attached to that thing I want because the plan is there, staving off disappointment that I don’t have it yet, floating me on hope that I will have it someday.

But I am attached!  I want it!  I want to go visit my family and we keep trying to make plans, but nothing ever seems to work out.  I want it so badly it leaves me sniffling into my cell phone and trying to explain why I’m just as surprised as he is to find myself tear-soaked.  I have this notion of myself as a calm, strong, independent woman who can survive on her own, far, far away from home for as long as it takes.  Just another shadow.

So I run, I study, I make plans, and I tell myself it’s okay if they don’t work out when the opposite is true.  I do a million things today to make myself feel better about tomorrow.

Silly rabbit. Why are you still chasing your shadow?

6 Comments leave one →
  1. June 8, 2012 2:44 pm

    I’ve lived away from my “family” for more than half my adult life. I enjoy where I’m at and know that being away from my family prolongs and promotes strength to my “family” and will last for a lifetime. Seeing my “family” to much would burn me out and I’d do dumb things and say dumb things to mess up that strong bond we have now. In other words, this time apart is good medicine for YOU, it’s building something you would not get had you lived down the street from them. Also you get (Like I have) (and with my kids) a chance to change your lineage, who wants to be another pasty plain ass corn chuck-er from Nebraska, one in 10,000 other white bread folks that end up, watch TV and movies, go fishing, shopping and the states number one adventure, going out to eat. Live life different, as you have by becoming a Buddhist: from Nebraska. Explore, change and be less, Nebraskan. I know you’ll get over this hump, homesick only last a few years, then in the end, you’ll thank yourself for being different. You know I moved back to NE for those three years at UNL. While somewhat fun, it was a waste of three years. I felt like I had NE slime on me and there was nothing I could do to shake it. Trust me, the pro’s of your family do not outweigh the cons of the state of NE. Good luck!

    • June 11, 2012 8:09 pm

      I don’t agree. I enjoy Nebraska. I know it has drawbacks, just like I know the acting in Star Wars is terrible, but love it anyway. My family all get along like old shoes, worn-in and comfortable. We’re all independent and give each other space. You’re right that living in different places is interesting and helps me grow, but I don’t do it because I dislike where I came from. I’m not running from anything.

      I’m sorry you had to leave your family to get along with them and that you had to spend three years living in a place that made you feel “slimy.” However, I don’t feel the same way and I don’t appreciate your projections or your characterization of my home. I’m glad you’ve found a place and a family that makes you happy though. I know you wanted that for a long time. Metta!

  2. June 12, 2012 11:48 pm

    I apologize to you and your readers, I was in a bad mood when I wrote that and still under the possibility of losing everything we have should the Army unit I work for deactivate and I’m not hired under the new position. I can’t fathom returning to the USA.

    I must have really toughed a nerve, I’ve not seen you respond to my posts in the past. :) Again, sorry and I again wish you the best of luck in the turmoils of chasing your shadow. 気を付けて!

    • June 14, 2012 7:43 am

      I’m so sorry to hear that. I know how much you love Japan. I truly hope things work out and you and your family are able to stay. You have my best wishes.

  3. R.H permalink
    November 3, 2012 9:05 am

    Just a question. I don’t know if you own that photo… but if you do, I would like to use it as my book cover. If that is okay? Im not using the whole thing and It’ll have a funny effect. Please let me know.

    • November 3, 2012 9:49 am

      I do not own that photo. If you check the caption, you can see I got it from Farbod at You should inquire about it there. Good luck!

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