Uncertainty - 2017


A Walk in Regent’s Park

By A. Spaice

“Took you long enough," my shadow bristled. Was he mad? He sounded like it.

I hadn't seen him like this, that is, in speaking mode, for twenty years. Right here in this very same place, Regent's Park. That was the last time I'd come to London. So when I heard my shadow pipe up, I was startled. “Hello there, you," was all I could muster in reply to the somewhat hurt inflection. My shadow did a small turnabout and stood still for a second, watching me watching him. Then the tension broke. As we turned up a footpath, strewn with almost-winter leaves, I let myself reflect. Yes, he was mad. We had gotten into a right row, the two of us. Usually my shadow is quiet and reserved, just observing and taking things in, and like I said, it's been nearly two decades since I last heard him speak. He was right, of course. I know that now. About insisting that my clinging to the idea that logic and reason are what Wins in Life is folly. My shadow, perhaps wanting me to preserve something he had seen in me then, popped into the space of color and life to press with equal and opposite force the idea that the programming I'd been conditioned to believe, a hard-wiring that says what counts in life is what can be counted, was wrongheaded. I believed him, now. “Are you still angry?" I asked. Soft-toned. This posture was new for both of us. As my shadow took it in, he straightened to our full height, and said, “No."

“Let's resume, shall we? A new direction, this time?"

“Let's."

There was a good light, the paths ahead were multiple, quiet, and spare. Things felt nice, this way. “I didn't know you would still be here," I said.

“Of course I'm here. I'm always here. Thing is, this is the thing, if you want to know? You haven't even noticed me. I've been here all along, and you just go on, carry on with your day as though, as though there wasn't even another aspect of you, watching you, from this vantage."

“Horizontal?"

“Ninety degrees perpendicular to you, thank you very much. It's relative, and from where I'm standing, you're the one who's horizontal. Flatlands and spacelands, well, let me see, all of this is a bit of a long-winded story, one that I'm not sure I'm going to be able to go into right now, not just yet, as the sun's going in. But Edwin Abbott would. Look him up? Yes, well, we are at right angles at least for the next twenty minutes or so, anyways. But I hope this time, you'll be less square."

“Twenty years is a long time."

“Angles. Relative, all of it."

A magpie skipped in front of us, and an array of orange flower petals set against a bed of golden-brown leaves seemed to reflect her good-naturedness. “Back in Regent's Park. Where we first…"

“Fought."

“Yes."

My shadow hesitated. “Do you still think that reason and logic… do you… well, let me try to understand you... Do you remember what I told you? Before?"

“Of course."

Crisp London light, which, in that instance, felt like a dream, perhaps a dream shared with many others, of some vital order that, until now, I had not noticed before, lit me and darkened him. Now we could really see each other. “This is nice," my shadow said, at last. It was new, our quiet coexisting. Sometimes it's like that, isn't it? You just let things flow as they will, without over articulating them. Maybe this was what he had meant, when he had said those things. I was young, I see that now, but I was also listening. He told me not to overvalue external validation and that, ultimately, self-validation is far more meaningful. (Which, of course, only someone like your shadow would tell you.)

We rounded a fountain, passed some joggers, a few tourists, and then, coming close to the gate for the road where both of us knew we'd shortly part, we stopped. It was as though we were at the start of a new twenty-year trip, and knew that this one, too, would be a work-in-progress. Trying, at times, but certainly vital. There and then, we had a silent conversation about art, about poetry, about making, and not getting caught up in the things that would keep us from doing the work that was most important to us, from becoming the persons that we knew we ourselves would have liked to know. The world? The world was everywhere, sheltering us in a canopy of drying leaves, listening and not interfering with our intimate, quiet space, at least for that instance.

“Excuse me, is this the way to the tube station?" It was a young woman, wearing a sky blue jumpsuit, with a cloudlike, braided band of off-white yarn in her light hair. “I'm a bit lost." Her eyes pierced mine with a bright blue-greenness. I saw my shadow urging me to say something regular, and not weird. I picked up a few leaves to stall a reply, pushed them deep into my coat pockets. “I'm, um. I'm sure it is, though I can't tell you one-hundred percent. I'm just visiting."

“Me, too," she said. With, I noticed, the same grace as the magpie that had scuttled in front of me and my shadow, not more than an hour ago deeper inside the park. The young woman reminded me of someone… a friend from the past? Someone earnest, looking for things, wandering, curious, ready to discover the world… but who?

“Let's go that way, together, and find out?" I suggested.

It takes time, sometimes, to be able to pick out the things that are there, right in front of you, and learn what they are trying to say. Learning and practice help you discern that which is remarkable, that which will change you, that which will, when you let it, show you who you really are. My shadow isn't there when I look for him, for guidance. It's the sun. The sun's gone in, as it does, from time to time. Light. Shadow. A chess of space and distance.

Find A. Spaice's pictures from London on instagram.com/dkompany.