The other night after tucking him in at bedtime, my youngest child called to me from his darkened bedroom. He was frightened.

"Look," he whispered hoarsely, his finger pointing towards the wall paralleling his bed. "Do you see them?"

Glancing in that direction all I noticed was the usual pale, taupe wall.

He was insistent, however, that grotesque figures were dancing on his wall, mocking and terrifying him. His fears sounded genuine, not merely the usual excuse to stay up a little longer.

It took me a few minutes to realize what was scaring my three-year-old.

"Watch carefully," I held up my five fingers, spreading them far apart and making a motion. Sure enough, a new dancing shape appeared on the wall.

Shadows — big ones, small ones, wide and narrow, tall and short — were disturbing my child. His own legs, arms, head and bed pillow were collaborating to form this strange and scary scene that frightened him with his every move.

Just that very same day, late in the afternoon, we had been walking hand in hand along the sidewalk in front of our home. Then, he had been fascinated by these very same shadows. We had watched how in one direction we grew so tall and big, only to turn around and see ourselves grow so small — depending on the angle of the light. We stretched our arms out making all kinds of shapes as we both broke into gales of laughter, observing our silly reflections.

My young son had felt so empowered, during the day, with his ability to create such interesting effects through his movements.

Yet, somehow, at night those same funny shapes became objects of terror. The empowerment felt during the day became oppressing to him at night. His every movement had the power of instilling fear and arousing dread in his little heart.

And then it occurred to me how, in our own lives, the significance of the very same issues can change so drastically — depending on our circumstances and approach.

During the daytime of our lives, when we are standing upright and feel in control, our movements are empowering. Then, the shadows in our lives are challenges to explore, experiences to broaden our horizons.

The scene drastically changes, however, when the evenings of our lives fall, when circumstances loom in blackness over us. During such difficult periods, we lie immobile and inactive, as the very same shadows suddenly become points of terrible worry and anxiety.

We may not be able to control the incidents and issues that will face us in life, but we can set the perspective. Stand upright and act positively upon life's challenges, and you will feel empowered and enriched. Succumb to the fear of your darkness, and your every move will be frightening.

As for my son and his insomnia, installing a small night-light did the trick. A little light dispels a great deal of darkness and suddenly though the shadows didn't disappear entirely, they became far less ominous.