Updated: Aug 13
The inspiration for writing & sharing this
Whenever I watch or listen to something that moves or inspires me, I can’t help but think how it can be shared as a teaching moment/experience - it can’t be helped! It can be for the most frivolous and humorous of things, down to the more serious stuff. The latter is one of these teaching moments.
In Shadow – A Modern Odyssey is a provocative and thought-provoking short film written, directed & produced by Bulgarian-born Lubomir Arsov in 2017. It comes across rather dystopian, and downright depressing at times, but ends on an uplifting and enlightening note.
It poses many questions through an epic quest into the darkness of Western civilization, and addresses many controversial, taboo, perhaps ‘conspiratorial’ topics, which are frequently considered uncomfortable and, perhaps, censorious by many. These 'hot' topics include: hyper-sexualization & rape culture, materialism, narcissism, celebrity worship, the Military-Industrial Complex, corporate lobbying, child abuse, exploitation, tech addiction, substance abuse, to name but a few - all woven in a tapestry of complex and vivid symbolism and story-telling through this short film (only 13 minutes long). It asks poignant questions, such as, “What happens when we drop our masks of identity and return to our human core?” and "What really fulfills us?"
News anchors, politicians, and celebrities, who are normally so groomed and beautiful, warp into grotesque caricatures. The smiles on everyday people are revealed to be masks that cover faces twisted in fear and agony. The world of jobs and careers begins to take on the aesthetic of a prison as people sell their lives for big houses, fancy cars, and the latest hot techno-gadget.
Your writer has a sense of humour, she thinks. Granted, it can be a little sardonic, ironic and dark, at times... Not exactly deemed 'good' small-talk material... But she adapts...
As an educator, it is deemed necessary to talk about such ‘hot’ societal issues and topics, in a meaningful and constructive manner - to shed light on them, so to speak. Ignorance thrives in darkness. Sometimes we have to unpack, entertain and allow the darkness and ugliness to be seen, and acknowledged, in order to fully appreciate the beautiful light that exists. And not to let the darkness swallow us whole. This quote really resonates:
We all go through adverse, challenging and difficult times in our lives, for sure. It’s all part of the human condition, isn’t it? However, had these ‘nasties’ not existed, we would not fully appreciate, and be able to embrace the good – love, peace, light, family, joy, adoration, beauty, taste buds… all the good stuff!
I write this slightly self-indulgent blog, as a personal catharsis, and primarily, and most importantly, in loving memory of my dearest, oldest and nearest sister, SJvZ*; who elected to end her own life in July 2021.
To my sister: I’m sorry that the proverbial monsters swallowed you alive, because that means you are no longer with us. But I get it, to a certain degree. I selfishly wanted you to stay here for longer, because it hurts too much, and in “a thousand different ways” (to quote my favourite second oldest sister GHG), to not have you here, with us on this earthly realm.
To quote from SJvZ’s eulogy , “I know that you often selflessly made efforts to champion for others: the underdogs, the vulnerable, and those less fortunate. It is understood that you would balk at the idea of inflicting any unnecessary pain and suffering onto others.
Sometimes when a person feels as though they have such a lack of control in their own lives, and over their own thoughts, and feelings; the one thing they do have complete agency of, is their life.”
May she have found her peace, love & light, wherever she may find herself through space and time.
*To family and friends: yes, I know how intensely private our SJvZ was, so I've made every effort to keep it so, and not reveal too much publicly. However, this is my way of dealing with the grief of loss, all with the intention of honouring a beautiful life and soul. It's all done out of love.
The teaching material
To my fellow teachers: Right, so without further ado, here is the lesson plan, plus materials:
Thank you for your time. It is hoped that this is appreciated. Feel free to share it far and wide.
As always, love, peace & light, Di