Photographers call the moments before the sun slips below the horizon the “golden hour.” The colors are brilliant oranges, pinks, reds, and purples. As much as I enjoy the beautiful colors, I also love to turn my back to the sunset and marvel at the long shadows.
I encounter especially long shadows when I visit my Mom’s house in the fall. Oklahoma has beautiful sunsets that melt across wide-open spaces. Often, I will walk out into the open fields near her house to watch the sunsets and to catch a glimpse of some ridiculously long shadows.
I marvel at how far my 5’ 9” frame can stretch as a shadow. My long, skinny shadow reaches out some 20, 30, maybe even 50 feet. At some point, I began to think of these long shadows as a metaphor for the influencers in my life who have passed on but still have an outsized impact in life.
I have three individuals who cast an outsized shadow on my life – my Dad (Donnie Myers), my Grandad (Harold Henderson), and my Granny (Mae Henderson). They weren’t famous, but they have lasting influence on me and many others. Losing each one hurt me in a different way and hit at a different stage of life. I was only a teen when I lost Dad; a young married man when I lost Grandad; and the parent of a young child when I lost Granny. Chances are, you have long shadows in your life from people like this – parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles.
What did they do to cast long shadow in my life? They spent time with me. They took interest in my hobbies and interests. They weren’t afraid to correct me. They modeled the importance of faith in their lives. They taught me how to do things. They loved being with people (family and friends). They loved me unconditionally.
Something my Grandad did after my Dad was influential in helping me see my Dad’s long shadow in my life. Grandad, my Dad’s father-in-law, heaped praise on my Dad for spending so much time with me and my sister. My Dad valued quality time with his family. That spoke to Grandad. He would often talk about this aspect of my Dad even into my adult years. Dad placing value on quality time cast a long shadow. Grandad reinforcing that value stretched the influence of both men in my life. So, one of the ways that I am attempting to build a long shadow is quality time with my son.
There are many other ways that Dad, Grandad, and Granny left a long shadow in my life. I will save those for later. The main point in writing is to encourage others to start building a shadow of influence that will stretch on past your time on planet earth. Live a life that leaves a ridiculously long shadow.
Photo by Matthew Ansley at Unsplash.com.