Gracie sat in my lap and wanted to play a game. This is a reoccurring theme that the distance between Nashville and New York keeps from reoccurring very often. I wish it could reoccur more.
This time, Gracie wanted to play outside. But after a weekend packed full with Easter eggs, bike rides, tickle fights, and birthday parties, I didn’t want to go outside. I wanted to rest. In a chair. Inside.
“Gracie,” I said, “maybe you should go outside and play by yourself for a few minutes while Uncle Bryan sits here and finishes his tea.”
Uncle Bryan sometimes speaks in the third person because it makes him sound like he’s doing a favor for someone other than himself.
“But Uncle Bryan, you have to come outside with me” Gracie whined, “I can’t play hide-and-seek with my shadow!”
She’s right, of course. There are a very limited number of outside games a person can effectively play with their shadow.
“Follow the Leader” – yes.
“Hide and Seek” – no.
Maybe that’s why childhood… and adolescence… and even adulthood have been so uncomfortable for so many of us. We’ve spent too much time playing hide-and-seek with our shadow, running from something that can’t leave, hiding from a part of ourselves that refuses to go away.
Instead of playing outside, Gracie and I sat at the kitchen table and drew pictures. Then we shared a piece of cake and built a spaceship with her brother’s Legos. It was a wonderful afternoon of playing games, telling stories, and spending special time together – all of which Gracie’s shadow was (and will always be) welcomed to join.