Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Die Unendliche Geschichte (The Neverending Story)

"Where were we?" Engywook asked.
"At the Great Riddle Gate," Atreyu reminded him.
"Right. Now suppose you've managed to get through. Then - and only then - the second gate will be there for you. The Magic Mirror Gate. As I've said, I myself have not been able to observe it, what I tell you has been gleaned from travelers' accounts. This second gate is both open and closed. Sounds crazy, doesn't it? It might be better to say: neither closed nor open. Though that doesn't make it any less crazy. The point is that this gate seems to be a big mirror or something of the kind, though it's made neither of glass nor of metal. What it is made of, no one has ever been able to tell me. Anyway, when you stand before it, you see yourself. But not as you would in an ordinary mirror. You don't see your outward appearance; what you see is your real innermost nature. If you want to go through, you have to - in a manner of speaking - go into yourself."
"Well," said Atreyu. "It seems to me that this Magic Mirror Gate is easier to get through than the first."
"Wrong!" cried Engywook. Once again he began to trot back and forth in agitation. "Dead wrong, my friend! I've known travelers who considered themselves absolutely blameless to yelp with horror and run away at the sight of the monster grinning out of the mirror at them. We had to care for some of them for weeks before they were even able to start home."
"We!" growled Urgl, who was passing with another bucket of water. "I keep hearing we. When did you ever take care of anybody?"
Engywook waved her away.
"Others," he went on lecturing, "appear to have seen something even more horrible, but had the courage to go through. What some saw was not so frightening, but it still cost every one of them an inner struggle. Nothing I can say would apply to all. It's a different experience each time."
"Good," said Atreyu. "Then at least it's possible to go through this Magic Mirror Gate?"
"Oh yes, of course it's possible, or it wouldn't be a gate. Where's your logic, my boy?"
"But it's also possible to go around it," said Atreyu. "Or isn't it?"
"Yes indeed," said Engywook. "Of course it is. But if you do that, there's nothing more behind it. The third gate isn't there until you've gone through the second."

















That scene in The Neverending Story where Atreyu winds up in front of the magic mirror, fearful of what he might see within his reflection has always scared me tremendously. Ever since I was a young child, I feared that if I were to step up and do the same thing, what I would see in the mirror image would be absolutely horrifying.

I am afraid of who I am. There are so many negative aspects to my personality that I often feel like a selfish and bratty monster. It’s not like that all of the time. But whenever I mull over the events of my life, I can’t help but feel a resounding sense of regret for a great many things that I have said or done. I do not make friends easily. It’s even harder to keep them. I am inherently lazy. I am brutally honest when I shouldn’t be. I have very few successes, awards or talents to my name. The debris from my life that lies all around me is covered with mounting and painful regrets.

But one thing lately that I have not regretted is this blog. It is by no one’s standard a success- except to me. I have never been able to keep a diary for longer than a week. I’ve often found my understanding of the English language (a language I’ve spoken my whole life) to be woefully inadequate. I hate grammar and spelling. I think far better and easier than I write (and speak for that matter). I have trouble expressing the way that I feel on the inside, the things that I imagine, the worlds that I dream, concepts that I intuitively embrace without being able to back up with proper thought and reason. Sometimes I wonder if I have some sort of “articulation dyslexia”. I can think just fine but when it comes to forming words in my mouth and sentences through my fingers, I often get it jumbled. So I never gave much thought to finding one particular place to leave a record of what I experienced. It didn’t seem like it could be a positive endeavor for me.

I started this blog mainly to keep in touch with my friends and family back home in the Midwest. I also wanted a log of my weight loss, which was quickly becoming a successful venture for me. The photographs happened later on by pure chance and they not only changed the way I saw the world, but the way I saw myself as well. Eventually I got over my fear of sharing myself here and I began to reveal private things that I was going through or had experienced in my life. Through that process I found that I was changing. I was evolving into a “better” person. And I had audience to watch it unfold.

When I realized my audience was growing, and I had a handful of friends and family stopping by on an almost daily basis, I began to wonder what they would think about something I might say or post here. This blog became less and less anonymous and I began to feel as if I was insulting people left and right whenever I expressed something that they didn’t like. Some people said I couldn’t possibly be an atheist, for it didn’t match with what they knew of me. Some felt that I was sharing too much of my life here- intimate details that weren’t fit for print (never mind that they always returned the next day for an update). For a time I contemplated going back to the bare bones of just my photographs and their titles. No more sharing. But something in me said that just wasn’t right.

In a recent conversation regarding the content of my blog, I realized that I upset someone, whether they admit to it or not. It wasn’t my intention to do so, (and it never is any time that I post something here), but whenever it does happen (and lately it seems like this happens more and more), I find out just a little bit more about myself and the people in my life. This latest round helped me to see the man behind the curtain who had previously been disguised as a powerful Wizard. That may sound like a negative response on my part, but in reality it’s just a clearer understanding of another human being as they truly exist.

I do like discovering different levels of understanding that can happen between myself and another person when we share with one another, however the process is often painful and not always successful. Or at least, it doesn't have an easy and definable outline of immediate achievement. I’m still learning what the proper amount of personal stuff is that I can safely share with another human being without being judged too harshly. I have times where I feel completely open to share whatever and times where I’m so tightly closed up that nothing can get through. My blog archives illustrate this with the months of silence, the summer of a thousand photographs and the gradual emergence of my true self, the long posts of my latest failed relationship, and the recent (mostly) deliberate absence of photographs in favor of many FOW (found on the web) items and links. It is a back and forth struggle that I find is difficult to maintain and difficult to reflect on.

The point that I’m trying to make is that I can’t be myself here any longer. I can’t be who I am and who I am becoming in front of an audience of people that know me personally. I may not have the luxury of choosing to hide in real life, but I am able to do that online. So I’m exercising my option and going anonymous.

I can't and won't stop writing in a blog and posting my photographs. Where I am headed, I do not know. But one thing is for sure, recording it for my personal benefit is significantly helpful to my personal journey. Getting it all down on paper (or webpage as the case may be) is helping in surprising ways. When I can look back and review my thoughts from a couple months ago, or even a couple of years, I find that I have a tangible measure of success for myself simply because I am paying attention to what’s going on in my head and in my life. Intuitively I know that I’m doing something right in documenting as much of this journey as possible and letting it become a Neverending Story for myself. So for now, I am going to continue to record the story in a quiet corner of the web where I don't have to worry about sharing so much with everyone else.

3 Comments:

Blogger Alder said...

This is the sort of beautiful post that keeps me coming back--even though, as you say, you're not writing for the outside audience. It sounds as though the blog itself has been your magic mirror. There's a funny paradox in that, you know: If the magic mirror truly does reveal your deepest self, why isn't it the end of the journey? If the journey continues, will not the self also continue to grow and deepen?

Personally, I would never have the courage to see something horrible about myself and step into it if I thought that I would then be trapped inside of it, locked forever in a personal hell of my own monstrous self. I would run away. The only way I could find the courage to step into the mirror would be if I had complete trust that it was a gateway only, and that once I took that step, I could then journey on past the monster to something better.

The world's mythologies are full of stories of ogres and monsters who turned into beautiful gods and goddesses once the hero has been willing to befriend them, or speak the magic words to them, or accept them in some way. Parts of ourselves we see as monstrous may turn out to be strong and beneficial virtues, once we have the courage to embrace them.

Personally, I do not believe in the magic mirror which shows the "innermost" self, because the journey continues. There is always a new depth, another gateway, left to explore.

This blog has been both a magic mirror, revealing bits and pieces and facets and sparkles of yourself, and a magic window, letting others see into you. I can see the value in having a place for things you want to record, but not to share with those around you off-line. Best wishes for the success of the new private blog. But I hope you will continue to use this blog for the things that are meant to be in view for both the mirror and the window.

I hope this blog's story has not come to an end. ;)

11:45 AM  
Blogger Louise said...

I loved this film this was my favourite childhood film and I watched it over and over. Watching through eyes as a child I never really gave it much thought but now that you have arose the question in my adulthood I take the time to reflet what "The Magic Mirror Gate" meant to me.

Personally if you knew me, you may look at me and make a few assumptions on what type of person I am, I think that daily we make judgments on people by the way they look and most of the time we are wrong. If I was to tell you what type of person I'd like to think I am, considerate, funny, intelligent, articulate, kind, loving, I could go on and on with all the nice characteristics, and then in contradiction, selfish, rude, inpatient, vain, and again I could go on with all the not so nice things about myself.

But when you stand in front of the Magic Mirror Gate, you truly see yourself for what you really are. But I think that with the Magic Mirror Gate when you stand in front of it you have to be totally confident about all the good things about yourself, that the mirror could detect any sign of weakness in your heart, if you were a good person but felt that you weren't, it showed you that you weren't then seeing that reflected back at you disheartend you even more, praying on your weakness and therefore not being able to go on.

Before I go on I don't want you to think that I am preaching to you as this is my belief and I am not trying to impose it on you whatsoever. But what I am read of your blogs so far is that I found you really down on yourself, of course we are all in times horrible people, you only have to look around you when you are sat on a tube, walking down the street, or drivig your car, I find our society is quite rude to each other. So yes in fact we are all guilty of this but if you could only see yourself as Jesus see you and that's "Perfect". Yes you have your ways that are not nice but I bet that you have so many great qualities to and Jesus see them all, the amazing thing is that He even see the worst ones the ones that you try your hardest not to show others and He still loves you.

We were all born as sinners, there isn't one person on this earth that is as pure as the bright day sun, there was only one and that is Him and He wants you to know that whatever you are stuggling with, if you were to take it to Him, He will set you free. And that maybe sounds like a lot of gobble ye gook to you but I have seen Him change lives and He's definitely changed mine. When you truly find Jesus, He starts to change your heart. God doesn't look at the outward appearance He searches your heart and even though you may think that sometimes your thoughts are not that nice, He sees beyond that, He sees right to the heart of you, and I think that "The Magic Mirror Gate" is a representation of God.

I am not some do-gooder Christian, I am flawed and I believe me I know it, I don't claim to be rightous cause I am not, I just have a faith and know and trust that above and beyond this life there is something far bigger.

So please don't be afraid of who you are, God made you uniquely, there is not another person in the whole world like you.

4:27 PM  
Blogger Louise said...

I loved this film this was my favourite childhood film and I watched it over and over. Watching through eyes as a child I never really gave it much thought but now that you have arose the question in my adulthood I take the time to reflet what "The Magic Mirror Gate" meant to me.

Personally if you knew me, you may look at me and make a few assumptions on what type of person I am, I think that daily we make judgments on people by the way they look and most of the time we are wrong. If I was to tell you what type of person I'd like to think I am, considerate, funny, intelligent, articulate, kind, loving, I could go on and on with all the nice characteristics, and then in contradiction, selfish, rude, inpatient, vain, and again I could go on with all the not so nice things about myself.

But when you stand in front of the Magic Mirror Gate, you truly see yourself for what you really are. But I think that with the Magic Mirror Gate when you stand in front of it you have to be totally confident about all the good things about yourself, that the mirror could detect any sign of weakness in your heart, if you were a good person but felt that you weren't, it showed you that you weren't then seeing that reflected back at you disheartend you even more, praying on your weakness and therefore not being able to go on.

Before I go on I don't want you to think that I am preaching to you as this is my belief and I am not trying to impose it on you whatsoever. But what I am read of your blogs so far is that I found you really down on yourself, of course we are all in times horrible people, you only have to look around you when you are sat on a tube, walking down the street, or drivig your car, I find our society is quite rude to each other. So yes in fact we are all guilty of this but if you could only see yourself as Jesus see you and that's "Perfect". Yes you have your ways that are not nice but I bet that you have so many great qualities to and Jesus see them all, the amazing thing is that He even see the worst ones the ones that you try your hardest not to show others and He still loves you.

We were all born as sinners, there isn't one person on this earth that is as pure as the bright day sun, there was only one and that is Him and He wants you to know that whatever you are stuggling with, if you were to take it to Him, He will set you free. And that maybe sounds like a lot of gobble ye gook to you but I have seen Him change lives and He's definitely changed mine. When you truly find Jesus, He starts to change your heart. God doesn't look at the outward appearance He searches your heart and even though you may think that sometimes your thoughts are not that nice, He sees beyond that, He sees right to the heart of you, and I think that "The Magic Mirror Gate" is a representation of God.

I am not some do-gooder Christian, I am flawed and I believe me I know it, I don't claim to be rightous cause I am not, I just have a faith and know and trust that above and beyond this life there is something far bigger.

So please don't be afraid of who you are, God made you uniquely, there is not another person in the whole world like you.

4:31 PM  

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