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Journeys: Meaning of Life and Inner Journey Essay

To go on a journey does not necessarily require one to physically move from one place to another. A journey can happen anywhere, and at any time, even if you are not moving. An inner journey is to transcend above the physical and temporal world into a spiritual realm. This enables one to look at life attentively and be alert to the lessons learnt from experience. ‘Of Eurydice’ by Ivan Lalic, ‘Fax X’ by Gwyneth Lewis, ‘Wind in the Willows’ by Kenneth Graham, ‘The Road Not Taken’ by Robert Frost, ‘The Red Tree’ by Shaun Tan and ‘Baraka’ directed by Ron Fricke are five texts that explore this concept of inner journeys.

Collectively they present inner journeys to be inevitable, that they require you to make choices and that they make you ask questions of an ontological nature. It can be argued that inner journeys are inevitable in that they are unavoidable. Whether we are open to it or resist it, essentially we grow from experience and consequently this growth contributes to one’s understanding of self. This idea is presented in ‘Of Eurydice’ through choice of words such as ‘dark’, ‘despair’ and ‘death’.

These words all have connotations to the fact that death is inevitable, and the persona has come to realize this when his is unable to return from a journey with his goal. This supports the idea that journeys are indeed inevitable and cannot be avoided; furthermore his understanding is emphasized when the composer ends with ‘hideously enriched’. This use of oxymoron is effective in that it portrays that idea of growing and learning from the most painful experiences. Similarly, ‘Fax X’ also deals with the idea of journeys being inevitable; the metaphorical use of a cruising ship implies hopeful prospects for a better day.

However the symbolic use of ‘Tomorrow ringing out like a buoy’ presents the depressing idea that essentially we are only looking ahead and mindlessly keeping ourselves occupied until death engulfs us. Hence it is arguable that Inner journeys are unavoidable, as we cannot escape the fact that one-day we will die. As humans we incomprehensibly attempt to outlive our allotted lifespan, in doing so we take ourselves on an inner journey of realization and consequently acceptance for death.

In addition, inner journeys are essentially about the choices one has to make in life, as conflict and contradiction are at the heart of any journey. ‘Wind in the willows’ is an example of how conflicting attitudes in one’s self determines what ‘path’ we choose. ‘Wind in the willows’ presents three characters that represents the ego of one person: the optimist who is open to change, the pessimist who resists it, and the one little voice stranded in the middle trying to make a choice. The attitudes of these three different personalities are presented through language, which depicts the nature of the characters.

The punctuation of the toad’s character constantly consists of commas. This creates an exhilarating effect that enables the audience to get caught up into the toad’s excitement and zest for life. The language of the toad is also that of an optimist. The use of ‘tomorrow’, ’beautiful’ and ‘we’ suggests that the toad is happy and willing to go on a journey and is open to change. The Rat’s attitude however is in complete contrast to the toads. The use of adjectives such as ‘slowly, and ‘trusting hands into his pockets’ suggests that the rat despises change.

Hence the use of these two character, with the mole being indecisive in-between alludes to the choices one that to make constantly in life. Our insatiable thirst for more is hindered by our obligations to be responsible and sensible. Hence this conflict within one’s self depicts the inner journey of the responder trying to make choices by weighing pros and cons in their heads. Similarly, ‘The Road not taken’ presents elements of uncertainty as well as the burden of making choices. However this is communicated to the responder through symbolism, alliteration and accumulation of words.

The ‘Road’ itself is symbolic of choice. The title indicates that the poem is about the road the composer did not take. In conjunction with the use of alliteration in ‘wanted wear’ it reflects the persona’s desires and personal aspiration. The choice of words such as ‘Diverged’, ‘yellow’ and ‘sorry’ are connation to choice, the uncertainty of making such choices and the regret of having to make choices. The accumulation of these words suggests that the persona is filled with an overwhelming sense of hopelessness and regret.

Regret stems from his inability to be everything he wants to be and hopelessness of being incapable of exploring all the possibilities and desires in his life, because ultimately life is too short. ‘The Road Not Taken’ laments on the reality of life, that one cannot be everything due to the constricting nature of making choices. However one cannot escape making choices in life, and every choice that you make will consciously or unconsciously take you onto an inner journey of realization, hope and desire.

Furthermore, inner journeys essentially require you ask questions of an ontological nature. An inner journey is present in the human desire and insatiable thirst to seek answers concerning who are they, what they are worth and the purpose of their life. This concept is evident in ‘The Red Tree’ by Shaun Tan, which depicts the story of a child’s struggle to find her place in the world. The ambiguity of the ‘child’ allows the responder to reflect upon the child within themselves and their personal desire to find one’s sense of self in a confusing and incomprehensible world.

This idea is presented in frame two of the Paleolithic Fish. The milky eyes of the Paleolithic fish have connotations to death; the open mouth of the fish suggests that the child is being engulfed by a world full of doom and despair. However in the same frame, a little red leaf still lingers. The use of the colour red implies the leaf is one of passion and hope of the individual. The conjunction of the fish and the leaf suggest that journeys are depressing, as they require you to look at the depth of your being and your insignificance.

However, despite the profanity of our reflection of our inner journeys there is always of sense hope that exists and enables us to continue on with life. ‘Baraka’ directed by Ron Fricke extends on this struggle to find answers in life. Using production elements such as sound, lighting, transition rates and camera angles, Fricke show humanity’s attempts to find answers through human relationship with nature and religious exploration. The transition of lighting from dark and light in the opening sequence suggests the evils and beauty of the world.

The camera angles of the mountains are such that the mountain seems empowering and it appears that it is leading up to the sky. This is followed by quick transition rates that occur through the shots of technology, which are a reflection of the busy, and conglomerated lives humans. The contrast between these images enable meaning to be made and allows the responder to transcend above the physical and temporal world and reflect upon the way humans live. In such a convoluted and technologically elite world, humanities underlying desire is to find the ultimate purpose in life.


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