by Ginger Teppner
There is an essay coagulating in my bloodstream as I fold the laundry. There is language sprouting from my gut as I wash the dishes. Words like privilege and paradox and humanity are hovering on a frequency just beyond cohesion. The more I reach out and try to grab them the more they unravel into space. I decide to swat the impulse away. I need to get my house in order. I don’t have time to write this love letter. Yet, it means to be written. It whispers to me: slow down and clear your heart. Come back to the page to expose your truth. It refuses to be eclipsed. The floor will have to be washed later.
At the beginning of the summer I was prompted to explore the meaning of constitution beyond symbolism. My investigation followed a specific tributary: one that desired to see self as it really is. My self. My truest self. No different from the self of other. In short, my exploration led to an epiphany. I am built in ways I have ignored. I am not the person I have convinced my self exists. And to eclipse the full totality of who I am, the all of it, the full spectrum of humanity expressed, is to allow the less savory aspects of self to flourish secretly in the dark.
Left untended these parts of self grow restless. I have come to suspect that while these darker characteristics of human nature are not meant to be wantonly unleashed, they need to be acknowledged: nurtured even. These shadow tendencies of self know their place.They simply want self to re-recognize their existence and then re-recognize their existence in others. The hypothesis formed. If you can recognize the shadow self within, you will be able to identify this for what it is in others: a reflection of humanity eclipsed. Therefore, all constitutions must acknowledge silhouette.
The problem with my experiment becomes self evident almost immediately. If shared in totality, my proofs are incriminating. They do not fit neatly in the general narrative of the who I believe I am. They do not fit neatly in the general narrative of social acceptability or moral equivalent. Others, most likely, will fail to see themselves reflected in my shadows. But at least for now, I can see them reflected in mine. And this is a beginning.
As the moon passed in front of the sun, I made a silent commitment to my shadowy contour. I promised my grayer selves that in the moments when I choose not to look up for fear of being blinded, I will at the very least attempt to remove my own blinders. And when searching for the light within, I will name the darkness as well. In this way to re- remember not only when I tend to shine but also how the light necessitates darkness, without which there could be no reflection.
To look closely at my own shadows.To pay attention to them. To be honest with myself. These were my promises, and I have been shocked at what I have uncovered. Still, it has been worth it if when I turn my gaze again to others, I see them through vigilant eyes of one who understands and sees her own limitations reflected in those she previously judged as lacking.
My constitution is paradoxical. My constitution is in flux. My constitution inhabits every possibility. It will not be eclipsed.