In one of his notebooks, Leonardo da Vinci wrote this riddle:
“Huge figures will appear in human shape, and the nearer you get to them, the more will their immense size diminish.”
The answer: “The shadow cast by a man at night with a light.”
When I think about this riddle, I can’t help but think of my life’s shadows and how da Vinci’s observation applies just the same.
Oftentimes our troubles can seem gigantic, and our present challenges too difficult to bear. I know I feel this way at times. There are bills to pay, work issues to resolve, conflicts in the family, and health concerns to take care of.
But we are prone to overestimate, and the things we dread are often smaller than they seem.
I remember being given a very huge project early in my career and thinking it seemed more work than was necessary, more stressful than it was worth the effort to do. But having no choice, we pushed through.
The project was certainly difficult, but also not as much as it had initially seemed especially after working with a great team. Later on, that project went on to win awards.
I realized then that if I had given in to my gut, I would have probably missed a good win, and the opportunity to work with extraordinary people.
It’s not until we face the shadows square on and move closer to take a better look, that we realize they’re not as big as they seem, not as hard to tackle. Because now that you’re nearer to it, the once giant of a shadow is smaller, and the once fuzzy image a more “defined” and clearer picture.
Anyone who’s ever cast hand shadow puppets with a flashlight would know.