122 - The Neverending Story

Hello and welcome to the The Spark & The Art creativity podcast. Thank you for subscribing to our weekly podcast, where we alternate between interviews with creative folks from all different career levels and insight and inspiration episodes. All with the intention you’ll get what you need to get your creative projects started and, more importantly, finished.

I’m your host Tucker and this week is a bit of a book review. 

My commute is about 2 hours a day. In that time I listen to a lot of podcasts and audiobooks. For a while I did a thing where I listened to a classic book and then watched the movie adaptation. I did Animal Farm which animated feature was made in 1954. And there is a scene at the beginning where a lamp swings in the barn yard and the shadows are completely remarkable considering it was all hand-drawn. I did 1984, Fahrenheit 451, and many others.

Then I went on a really big non-fiction kick with books like The Art of Money Getting by P.T. Barnum (much more practical and money wise than you’d guess from his reputation and the title), Creativity Inc by Ed Catmull of Pixar and The Art Of Asking by Amanda Palmer and, of course, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield (the book I recommend most). At the moment I am finally reading Creativity by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. It's supporting a lot of what I've been talking about on the podcast so that makes me feel good. 

Along the way I throw in some fiction as well just not nearly as much as before. I think one of the most interesting combinations was The Bhagavad Gita followed by it’s modern retelling, as a golf match, The Legend Of Bagger Vance. I really liked The Life of Pi even though some people think it gets a bit tedious. I recently listened to Peter Pan narrated by Tim Curry. Not as good as I was expecting to be honest. 

Out of all of these books and all of the ones that I didn’t mention I get a little something. Usually about creativity and life’s journey since that’s what I’ve been most interested in. But I don’t think any have really captured it as well as The Neverending Story. 

You may know The Neverending Story from the 1984 movie. You’ll know Falkor the Luckdragon and Atreyu. You’ll probably remember to the scene in the Swamps of Sadness where Atreyu loses his horse. And you probably remember Bastian giving the Childlike Empress a name and then flying away on Falkor as the song played triumphantly into the credits. It’s grand a imaginative fantasy journey that has become a classic. 

I’d recently read that the author Michael Ende hated the movie and denounced it wanted his name removed from having anything to do with the film. I wondered, was he just being a diva? Was there some political or personal thing that affected his relationship with the filmmakers? Was the movie really so terrible? This movie classic, terrible?

So I read the book. If you haven’t read the book there may be some spoilers ahead but I’ll do my best not to give away anything too much. 

So the book starts and for quite a long while it’s incredibly faithful to the book. Like incredibly faithful I’m wondering wha the big deal is. Then Bastian gives the Childlike Empress her name. This is where the movie ends. This is only halfway through the book. 

There is another complete adventure with Bastian in Fantastica. Bastian creates entire new stories for the land of Fantastica and in the process of his creating begins to forget about his previous life. He makes mistakes and tries to fix them he meets even more crazy creatures. He hurst his friends and finds forgiveness and more of the dramatic things that make for a great epic tale. 

In his travels Bastian is granted wishes by his protective talisman, Auryn. Once you know what your wish is it is granted. But sometimes your wish is deep inside of you and though you may think you know what your wish is and are saying one thing your truest wish is what is being granted. At one point Bastian and his friends find themselves travelling back to the same point rather than making their way to their destination. After a chat with one of his more observant travelling companions it’s discovered that Bastian is actually afraid to make it to where they are going and doesn’t actually want to get there. Out loud and with conviction he says he wants to make it to his destination but his truest wish inside, the one to not make it, is the one that Auryn grants.

This is the circle of failure. The self-destructive process we can all fall into. If you do what you’ve done you’ll get what you got. These are you limiting beliefs. Outloud we say we want to be concert pianist. Outloud we say we want to earn a living from our photography. But deep inside our deepest wish is to stay safe and not actually succeed. That deepest truest wish is the wish that is granted. But if we can find those wishes. If we can prove them wrong or reword them or at least acknowledge them. Our next truest wish will be granted. And that one will get us back on our path to our destination. 

There is a miner in Fansastica named Yor. He mines for pictures. These pictures are incredibly delicate and must be mined in the most gentle of ways. Bastian needs to find a picture in order to find his true purpose in order to complete his task. Yor teaches Bastian how to mine for the pictures and eventually Bastian can go out on his own to mine them. The pictures are fragments of dreams and thoughts. They are paper thin and in order to let the light shine through to see them they must be peeled gently from the other memories. Like shale they create the bedrock on which Fantastica is built. For all of the ideas and stories and people in Fantastica are built on forgotten dreams.

After a long, long time mining in the dark - and returning the next night to mine again - Bastian finally finds the picture that speaks to him. The one that he know will give him purpose. The one that in one frame can sum up what Bastian’s truest purpose is. 

This is the work we must do as creatives to get to our deepest truest work. We must toil and mine our thoughts and dreams. We must continually create and evaluate. We must tirelessly strive to discover that one thing that is our truest thing we are meant to express in order to move on. 

What is your truest wish? What is your purpose? 

These are the questions you may never answer but the journey to find them is the Neverending Story of your creativity. Keep going until you find the answers because once you find those … I believe that’s when the real work and the truest rewards come. 

I’ve purposely been a little vague about the details of the story because I actually hope that you read the book. And once you read it I hope you drop me a line and let me know what you thought. Was I totally off-base? Was I dead-on? Let me know on twitter @spartartpodcast

Thanks for listening and remember: you won’t get the art without the work and you won’t do the work without the spark. 

- Links for this episode -

Animal Farm - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TyndDoqUkvg

Neverending Story Soundtrack - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=heHdOTt_iGc

War of art - https://www.amazon.ca/War-Art-Through-Creative-Battles/dp/1936891026

Neverending Story (audiobook) - http://www.audible.com/pd/Kids/The-Neverending-Story-Audiobook/B007OQ0S2I/ref=a_search_c4_1_1_srTtl?qid=1477456410&sr=1-1