There’s a game where each player is asked to get others to guess an object without using any gestures, only words, but also no related words. We learned that one of the best ways to make someone aware of something is to show it’s absence. For example, if you want to open a door and there’s nothing to grasp and turn- you get doorknob, right?
Plato used the allegory of a cave where people tried to think of the world outside by the shadows cast on the wall from outside. This does convey how a shadow is an imperfect representation of the real form, but still, a shadow does give you a shape to imagine, and what is the shadow but the absence of the light that’s hitting everywhere around it?
When we are trying to figure out what we need, we often overlook those things that are all around us. How often to we remember that we need air- until the supply is cut off? How often do we think about encouragement or affection, unless there’s a lapse in what we usually get? As I age, I am suddenly aware of the energy I had when I was young, and had no idea that I had it. How often have you or a friend complained to a doctor about losing your ability to do complex mental math, lift 300 pounds, run a 5 minute mile, or something you used to do, only to have your concern dismissed because most people can’t do it anyway? But if it’s something you had and you’ve lost, it makes an obvious hole in your life that is hard to ignore, whether others don’t feel that as a loss or not.
In 1943 Abraham Maslow created an image to explain his theory of the hierarchy of human needs, including many we often forget. Often we only consider physical needs, and forget our psychological, emotional and spiritual needs. The thing about the physical is that it’s easier to measure, so we lean toward that. In the physical, Maslow remember air, and the less obvious homeostasis (the requirement for balancing levels of of the various bodily systems). but his pyramid reminds us that humans REQUIRE safety, and love, and positive interaction with those around them, and well as feeling the pinnacle- finding our life’s purpose. Without that, we have only a foundation. We need the whole structure. This is something we do well to think about.
If you have trouble figuring out what’s missing, try looking at the shadow, or where the emptiness shows. And asking for help is not a bad way either. (It occurred to me that while it’s hard for one paper doll to stand, a string of them support each other and make it easy.) Remember the idea of homeostasis- some times you may need heat, sometimes cool, sometimes quiet, other times stimulation, sometimes you may need to be alone, sometimes you need to be with others. None of those times is wrong, you need all of them to create the right balance. It’s all good at the right time.