The Need for Shadow
Without darkness and shadow, there is no depth. Ask any artist. We see depth and form through contrast. Shading and shadow in juxtaposition with light brings out the fullness of three dimensionality. Everything is flat in the harshness of just light.
The Problem with “Positivity”
A while ago, I pulled away from a friend of mine I used to be very close to. Why? He is so extremely “positive”. What’s wrong with being positive? Nothing, if it’s one of many colors. But if it’s the only color in the emotional spectrum, then I find it problematic. I dislike being with someone who only shares the light, who seems unwilling or unable to be present and alive with the shadow as well. Someone like that seems flat to me, lacking depth and fullness.
Embracing the Shadow and the Light
I don’t see anything wrong with feeling sad, angry, upset, afraid, or any one of a number of emotions that are often thought of as being “negative”. All emotions have value and messages. I do find it a problem to be stuck in any one emotion or state of being, even positivity. Looking at only the bright side is a lie. In real life, there is shadow, shade and darkness as well as light. There is a fullness and truth to accepting that. To embrace both the emotional shadow as well as the emotional light allows me to process and see a situation more fully for what it is, what it means, and what I can and need to do about it.
To me, “positivity” is like being in the desert with no shade and no moisture. I need the shade, the shadow, the moisture, the tears, the emotional fullness. Light without shadow to me is harsh. Ultimately, I experience “positive” people, not as being positive but as being in denial. I felt frustrated being with my friend because I felt like I couldn’t be authentically, fully myself. The moment I shared anything related to a challenge, or exhibited any of the darker emotions, he would jump in with comments that, for him, meant looking at the “positive” and bright side of the situation. I’m not interested in cutting off part of myself, part of life. I want to feel it all. I want to be authentically, fully alive. What has higher value to me than being positive is being authentic - experiencing and expressing the full range of emotions. I believe this gives me a deeper source of knowing and the possibility of living a fuller, richer life.