Around seven years ago, I felt like my life was at its happiest. If someone had asked me how I felt then, I would`ve gladly sworn that I was the happiest, most life-loving person in the world. And to an extent, I would be telling the truth, since I do believe that, as a person, I was at my happiest. Yet, we would be wrong to think that a person actually is what they truly are, or are made to be. If I was an actor, which in a way we all are sometimes, I could become many different persons in one day, yet be none of them. He – that is, the smiling, excited young man with the chiseled body that was once me, was a person, and a very happy one at that. But he was not the being he was meant to be. He was a wraith, a shadow of his real, original self.
Those of us who have read ‘The Lord of the Rings’ by J.R.R. Tolkien remember that the creature Gollum was actually a hobbit once. He was a Stoor, and the Stoors were one of the three breeds of Hobbits. But the deception of darkness allured him, and after yielding to the temptation, he began to change. In time, we all do. We were all something different once, before the messages and the demands of the world darkened the bright hope we carried in our hearts.
And so, although we are persons, and good ones in most cases, we are not what we are meant to be – human beings, living and breathing with ease, living and speaking only what is truth, fearing no exposure, or rejection from others. A human being only does that which responds to his or her inner makeup and is, automatically, in opposition of everything else. Do we begin to see now how heroes are different from ‘ordinary people’. Heroes, (and by this I mean all who had contributed to the world by staying true to their unique individuality, to the truth in their hearts) do not risk losing the treasure which is in them. Most of us, on the other hand, are happy to just survive. But heroes too, have the ghost-self, the wraith, the ‘flesh’. They, however, choose against it, driving it away, and every time they do it, the gleaming of the gold inside them shines brighter. Alas, most of us have never, at least in their conscious life, believed there ever was any gold in us, and so instead of chasing away the false self, we welcome it as a life-saver. Hiding behind it, we take as much as we can from life, and eventually begin to feel happy, even very happy. Others, although they have glimpsed the treasure, have rejected it, believing the dark messages which come early, so early in life, often unspoken. They are led to believe that their treasure isn`t real, that, in fact, it`s no treasure at ll, and in time, even become embarrassed by that which should have made them proud.
I remember times in school when, although I knew the answers, did not raise my hand. Other times I scoffed at my ability to understand, write and create stories. In my teens, I abandoned my love for nature, which had once made me so alive. I was deeply ashamed of the fact that I was ‘odd’ and somehow ‘childish’. The mask behind which I hid, covered all the awkward, unpractical desires, and I could finally get on with what I thought to be the real life. Seeing that my sense of humor was making quite an impact on my schoolmates, I became the joker. Later, if I saw that some trait, ability or skill, was liked, I used it, hiding even more of my real self, in order to gain acceptance. And with each passing year, the real ‘me’ was buried deeper and deeper…
‘It is not what they did to us’, said a friend to me once, ‘but what they did to us, did to us.’
This friend, a recovering addict, meant that it is not the tragedy, the assault we all suffer, that is the worst thing in our life. The worst thing is our response to it. The shift which takes place, often at a very early age, is what changes us into a shadow of what we originally were. Thus, the wraith comes to being.
But it is not us, and we should not be it.