Shadow Penguin

Believe it or not, I do lurk on a a few blogs without opening my big fat mouth. Travel Penguin’s blog is one such example. Every day David posts a nice picture and a short mini-essay. Often these mini-essays express wise life lessons. They usually end with a question, prompting his readers to join in the fun. Although Travel Penguin is the mascot of the blog and not the author, I get the two confused and think of “Travel Penguin” as being David’s handle.

It is a good thing I am not a Jungian, because over the past few weeks I have started to realize that I am probably Travel Penguin’s Shadow blog. He posts interesting pictures and pithy entries with concrete points; I post rambling walls of text. He consciously avoids writing about the bad stuff; I wallow in anguish. He looks forward to travels and new adventures; I agonize over purchasing a different brand of toothpaste. He made his family proud by becoming a lawyer and devoting his life to public service; I have disappointed everybody. He is generous and spends money for quality; you already know how miserly I am. He is open to experience, conscientious, outgoing, and agreeable; I am deeply neurotic.

Travel Penguin posts every single day, almost always on the stroke of midnight. He blogs for personal fulfillment, not for adulation or comments. In fact his excellent blog receives few comments, and it does not bother him. He is not envious of other bloggers, does not write entries comparing himself against them, and would never have inappropriate crushes on them. He is comfortable with himself and his body. He has overcome adversity and come through the other side. A decade ago he took a big risk by taking a new job in Washington DC, and despite the sacrifices it worked out well. He appreciates that life is finite and our opportunities for adventures is short. His blog comments are always kind and supportive and never mean-spirited criticisms disguised as “jokes”.

He is now reuniting with his witty and attractive husband (who — for mama — is a scholar) after a decade apart. His recent entries make it apparent how much this pleases him — he is almost giddy. I am happy for them too, and not even in an Alanis Morrissette “You Oughta Know” way. (Travel Penguin also uses analogies that — when not contemporary — are at least recognisable by his readership.)

I will never admit such, but I think I am the Gollum to Travel Penguin’s Frodo. I would bite off his finger to gain his precious gift, but of course his gift is not to be found in any of his possessions or any of his digits. It’s not even a gift. It’s his character, which he has worked hard over the years to develop. No amount of finger chomping is a replacement for that hard work.

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