afraid of tripping over your own shadow


Senior Member

Some old man in his 80es has the idea to build a smaller house for himself and his wife
since he figures they can't handle their actual house.
His son, who doesn't live with him, advices him to be cautious during the work since he is old.
Because, as his son says,
"You know, if you... cut your hand off
with the circular saw in a fit of geriatric stupidity, my sisters,
my wife, they're not going to let me forget about that, so.."

At this point, the old man, with a touch of irony says,
"Must be tough waking up every morning
afraid of tripping over your own shadow."
His son laughs and goes away.

Everything is clear, but what exactly does he mean with "trip on your own shadow".
Is this some kind of humor about the old age.
But why saying this to his son. What exactly is this metaphor about?
Movie "Still mine".

Thank you
  • PaulQ

    English - England
    "To trip/fall/stumble over/on your own shadow." is an idiom that means "to worry/be concerned pointlessly about every small thing and every possibility, no matter how unlikely."

    It is most commonly used to counter objections to a plan of some sort, especially questions that start with "What happens if...?"
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