One way to explore polarities in our life is that of heroes and villains. Who were my childhood heroes? Who are my current villains – who in the world do I make into a villain?
For me, I see that just about all my childhood heroes were explorers: Thor Heyerdahl (his life), Jack London (his life and books), Jules Verne (his books), David Attenborough (explorer, biologist), Carl Sagan (astronomer), my uncle (biologist living for a time in Africa), and so on. They all explored the world in various ways, through adventures, science and/or imagination.
I can see how well this fits my own life now. I explore the outer world through travels and living in a foreign country, I explore world views and approaches through books and practices, I explore the inner world through practices such as meditation and inquiry. It is all about exploration.
The villains in my world
My current villains are a little less obvious. It used to be the current US administration and corporations, but after doing inquiry for a while much of the charge has gone out there (sometimes triggered still, but much less frequently, with less intensity, and shorter duration). My villains mostly abuse power and treat others unfairly.
And I can see how these qualities definitely are in my shadow. They are obviously there, since I recognize them in others. And they are in the shadow, since I don’t see them so clearly in myself.
So just by asking ourselves two simple questions – who were my childhood heroes, and who are the villains in my world – we can see ourselves more clearly.
My daylit life mirrors to some extent the life of my heroes. It is what I am exited about in my life, what I would like to be, how I would like myself and others to see me. And my shadow life is the life of my villains. Those parts of me and others I would rather not where there, and I find easier to see in others than in myself.