It’s hard to realize that it’s been almost 30 years since The Neverending Story premiered.
A young boy feeling lost and alone after the death of his mother in the home of a single father who is widowed and doing his best to keep life on track for them both is bullied and chased by other kids and finds his way into an obscure bookstore. In this place he is initially chastised and rejected by the crotchety and cantankerous bibliophile who speaks critically and disdainfully. A set-up to pique the interest of this child who will be the ultimate savior of the dying Empress and Fantasia, the embodiment of human imagination and aspiration.
Keith just ordered all three movies in the series for our little Luna, who, without any conscious influence or encouragement from me is currently enamoured with Barbie movies. She really wasn’t into watching this movie or anything she hadn’t picked out for herself. Four year olds may not know much, but they certainly know their own minds.
I guess that can be said of most of us at various points in our lives, right?
And so, Keith and I wound up watching it together while Luna decided to play and watch other things in another room. I was having difficulty concentrating and had a lot of distractions disrupting my focus, but two different scenes really grabbed my attention.
The first was when Atreyu, the hero in the book young Bastion is reading, is struggling through the dark, dank, and dreary Swamp of Sadness with his pony, Artax.
I really identify with Artax: sinking ever slowly, motionless, being pulled under by the inertia and drag of the muck surrounding his feet, in an environment imbued with the greying darkness of sadness and despair. The poignant begging and pleading of the one who loves him most can’t reach into his mind and heart to get him to keep moving forward. He. Just. Stops. Moving.
Yeah, I can relate.
The next scene that slapped me into conciousness was the exchange between Atreyu and G’mork.
Because people have begun to lose their hopes and forget their dreams. So the Nothing grows stronger.
This is the thing I keep fighting in my life, inside of myself, this Nothing: “the emptiness that’s left. Its like a despair.”
The good news is that movies like this and interactions with my loved ones and the numerous folks that are present in my life, both IRL and online, are continually reminding me to try, to care, to focus on my hopes and dreams, to engage and not give into The Nothing.
One such friend posted a video of a 15 year old, Jack Andraka, who has created a way to detect pancreatic, lung, and ovarian cancer with a sensor that costs 3¢ and only takes five minutes. I was intrigued and decided to watch it, although my anachronistic brain still doesn’t really like watching videos on my phone or computer.
If a 15 year old, using nothing more than the information available on the internet, his own questioning mind, and a persistent determination to make a difference, find answers and create solutions can find a way to create a sensor to detect three of the deadliest forms of cancer, what can I do?
What can you do?
What can we do?
One thing I know I can do. I can refuse to let current events and the constant bombardment of tragedy, terrorism (domestic and foreign), and the onslaught of emotional and psychological manipulation dictate whether or not I succumb to The Nothing and allow myself to sink below The Swamp of Sadness.
This month’s peace challenge from Kozo at everydaygurus is a focus on children. Create a post that focuses on teaching the newest generation about generating peace.
I was at a loss, especially after the recent events in the U.S. this month, which just triggered much of the same miasma of fear-based vitriol that has been floating around and seeming to increase exponentially with every new incident.
Then I read a couple of posts by Amy West: A word on parenting after the violence in Boston and Hating Dzhokhar Won’t Help. She offers some very basic and foundational truths for teaching peace to our children:
Show your kids that compassion is always more helpful than judgment. Because it is.
Be kind to your kids. Believe in their good intentions. The way you treat them teaches them how to treat other people.
She suggests that, “We can choose to act from outside of the fear response (the one that says hate him, that eye-for-an-eye logic),” and shares about an African tribe that approaches rehabilitation of those who have chosen wrong and harmful action. “The tribe recognizes that the correction for antisocial behavior is not punishment; it is love and the remembrance of identity. When you recognize your own song, you have no desire or need to do anything that would hurt another.”
I will work to remember to sing Luna a song of compassion, empathy, acceptance, and forgiveness as often as I am able. I will continue to focus on the things that help me think and act out of the love and peace that exists within me and reach for love and peace in those around me.
I will allow Luna to choose the terrifyingly pink brightness of Barbie movies and follow her lead to dance and play and focus on what she wants to do and enjoy, rather than focus on the fears of society and what I’ve learned to believe is wrong and distorted. I can refuse to pass my hangups, assumptions, and false beliefs onto her.
I will teach her about empathy and compassion. I will show understanding, acceptance, and forgiveness over judgment, criticism, and vengeance and teach her how to cope with the painful, bewildering, and overwhelming things in this world.
Now, what will you do to try, to care, and to fight against The Nothing?
- Blog For Mental Health 2013 (acanvassoftheminds.com)
- “The Neverending Story” ~ battling depression and recognizing the angelic “Falcors” in my life. (wfedan.wordpress.com)
- ‘The Neverending Story’: Can Children Save the World? (Short Ends and Leader) (popmatters.com)