Fear of Flying: a Poem about Projecting Shadows

This is a poem inspired by an actual conversation I tacitly took part in because I was too afraid to speak up…instead I wrote this poem. It makes me wonder, how often am I guilty of this kind of judgment?

Who do I cast my shadows upon? 

Fear of Flying

Just because his skin is brown

and he wears a hooded sweatshirt

and rides on a plane

does not make him a terrorist.


He’s not “asking for it dressing that way.”

Your fear is projected onto his person

the way a movie is projected onto the screen.

The outer world is a reflection of your Self,

both the Conscious

and the Unconscious.


What does he see?

A judgmental white woman,

clutching her purse,

eyes darting to find an exit

“just in case.”


Why not walk over and say hello?

Are you afraid you might just see another soul,

trying to find peace and joy,

or just trying to make it.


Together you might form some understanding

of what it means to Be.

Remaining in ignorant, fearful silence

gets you both nowhere.


“A man who is possessed by his shadow is always standing in his own light and falling into his own traps… living below his own level. In terms of the story of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, ‘it must be Jekyll, the conscious personality, who integrates the shadow … and not vice versa. Otherwise the conscious becomes the slave of the autonomous shadow.” – Carl Jung


“If our personality and desires are the light that we turn towards, the shadow is what is cast behind us.”

Click this link and learn more about the Shadow Archetype…if you dare!



10 responses to “Fear of Flying: a Poem about Projecting Shadows

    • Thank you so much. I was nervous to post it. I don’t consider myself “racist” but I can’t deny that I too tend to cast my shadow onto others. I’d love to be totally non-judgmental, but I’m not even sure that’s possible! I mean, the fact that I wrote this shows I am judging the people who made the comments that inspired it! Sigh…

      Anyway, thank you again for your comment! It’s nice to have a bit of encouragement when you put yourself out there like this!

  1. This reminds me of the second plunge I did at UP in downtown Portland where we explored homelessness by actually acknowledging the faces we routinely see on the street. With one of the largest homeless populations in the nation, it is very easy to walk by someone sitting on the sidewalk holding a cardboard sign without a simple hellow. How often do you actually look a homeless man or woman in the eye? More often than not, I would guess (guilty as charged here too) that it’s easier to just walk past continuing on with your conversation or train of thought, not thinking twice about the human life you just passed who isn’t thinking any farther ahead than where his next meal will be or when she will get to sleep in a warm bed again. As I already said, I am guilty of this too, ignoring by defaulting my judgement of someone to an stereotype. It applies in the case of your poem, too. We create our own comfort at other’s expense by finding the quick way out, avoiding actual communication or pretending not to notice. There’s a lot to be said for taking another person as a human being, not casting your own biased shadow upon them. What if our default reaction was to allow someone to show you who they are instead of jumping to conclusions ourselves?

  2. We tend to form a perception about people based on their color, religious beliefs and actions. But the main point of “getting to know the person” is pushed into the background. Maybe we are too afraid to explore the unknown and broaden our horizons.

  3. Great Kaycie, It is so true that most of us judge first, accept later. It is almost as if we say “Prove to me you’re not a terrorist or prove to me you aren’t a drunk or a gang member.” In all actuality no one should have to do tricks or jump through hoops to fight for acceptance. If we looked at everyone we come across as an extension of family we can accept them for everything they are and everything they are not…if they prove us wrong, they only hurt themselves. Better to give someone the chance and opportunity and let them blow it then to always wonder…what if he was a nice guy and I maybe just let my perceptions get the best of me. Imagine what it feels like to walk into a room and feel constantly judged? Just as it is ingrained in some of us to feel this way and judge (especially growing up in a small white community) imagine they have the same ingrained sense of self doubt and self consciousness because of what our energy, looks, words, ect. have given them.

    • It feels good to be able to talk about these issues openly and lovingly. I felt like a hand was clamped around my throat when this conversation initially took place. I was the “outsider” and ironically I was afraid of speaking up for fear of judgment. I truly believe sharing our feelings openly is the only way to learn about where these insidious feelings of judgment and fear really come from. Thank you for your comments, Sara. They really resonate with me.

  4. A wonderful article in the true sense.
    The downfall of the attempts of governments and leaders to unite mankind is found in the wrong message that we should see everyone as the “same”. This is the root of the failure of harmony. Because the truth is, we should not all see everyone as the same! We are “not” the same! We are made of different colours and we have different cultures. We are all different! But the key to this door is to look at these differences, respect these differences, learn from and about these differences, and grow in and with these differences. We are all different. We are not the same. But that’s beautiful. And that’s okay. In the quest for unity and peace, we cannot blind ourselves and expect to be all the same. We are not on a journey to become the same or to be the same. But we are on a journey to see that in all of our differences, that is what makes us beautiful as a human race, and if we are ever to grow, we ought to learn and always learn some more.

    Thank you for this wonderful thought! 🙂

    • I totally agree with you Tanumoy! I think it might be impossible not to judge other people based on appearance and first impressions. I’m learning to allow my feelings of judgment to occur, but instead of latching on to them or pushing them away immediately I try to learn from them. I ask myself questions like, “why does my body tense up around this man? Is it because he looks different from me or is it something else?” Sometimes those initial physical response to someone contain important information, but once I have determined that a person is “safe” to approach I would rather give them the benefit of the doubt and get to know them before I determine what they are like. I believe people can surprise you if you give them the chance to share their stories.

      • Truly said, Kaycie. It’s all in the mind — once we can control it, our soul will be a pure one, and the heart will know what’s true and what’s right.

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