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But that is another story, and shall be told another time.
SSar's Beast


Some days later they had another serious talk.

Bastian had shown the lion the inscription on the reverse side of the Gem. "What do you suppose it means?" he asked. "'DO WHAT YOU WISH.' That must mean I can do anything I feel like. Don't you think so?"

All at once Grograman's face looked alarmingly grave, and his eyes glowed.

"No," he said in his deep, rumbling voice. "It means that you must do what you really and truly want. And nothing is more difficult."

"What I really and truly want? What do you mean by that?"

"It's your own deepest secret and you yourself don't know it."

"How can I find out?"

"By going the way of your wishes, from one to another, from first to last. It will take you to what you really and truly want."

"That doesn't sound so hard," said Bastian.

"It is the most dangerous of all journeys."

"Why?" Bastian asked. "I'm not afraid."

"That isn't it," Grograman rumbled. "It requires the greatest honesty and vigilance, because there's no other journey on which it's so easy to lose yourself forever."

"Do you mean because our wishes aren't always good?" Bastian asked.

The lion lashed the sand he was lying on with his tail. His ears lay flat, he screwed up his nose, and his eyes flashed fire. Involuntarily Bastian ducked when Grograman's voice made the earth tremble: "What do you know about wishes? How would you know about what's good and what isn't?"

In the days that followed Bastian thought a good deal about what the Many-Coloured Death had said. There are some things, however, that we cannot fathom by thinking about them, but only by experience. So it was not until much later, after all manner of adventures, that he thought back on Grograman's words and began to understand them.

These words struck a chord with me when I read them. Maybe around age 10? I read a lot of stuff that year. I took from them the idea that your dreams are your responsibility, not just in the sense that no one else should be blamed if they succeed or fail, but that if you have dreams, it's your duty to make a go of them. Everyone knows someone who's always talking about their big plans, but never does a thing. Everyone has mixed feelings about that person. Etc.

It fit in with Lewis's moral in The Horse and his Boy that the reward for succeeding at something is to be given a more difficult thing to do. Pride, or a sense of competence, also carries its own responsibilities with it. Your successes and your dreams alike carry duties with them.

Hm. This is just something I'm thinking a lot about lately.

I also loved The Neverending Story because many episodes ended with a story that could continue one way, but didn't, because it forked off in the direction the protagonist was going. The tagline was, 'But that is another story, and will be told another time.' Such an 'other time' becomes a crucial issue towards the end of the book; it's an implicit promise not only to the reader, but to the world of Fantastica. It's something that's resonated with me as I've gotten a little older. My life is full of things I wish I'd done, opportunities missed. Mostly so small: letters I should have written, a smile instead of a glare I should have given. It's good to acknowledge the points where our worlds branched off, even if we have to keep walking.

Or whatever.

In case it looks like I'm making a Totally Applies to My Life analysis of this thing, I'd like to call to my defense the idea of applicability vs. analogy, something Tolkien expounded upon, or so 20thcenturyvole says, and I've never gotten around to asking her for exact references. The Neverending Story had enough genuine wisdom that I could see what points it made and relate them to myself. They weren't intended to illustrate anything specific. There was nothing precise to read into them. But reading them, I could read into myself.

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That passage struck a chord with me right now, too. It's an intriguing thought: it's easy to make a wish but it is much harder to make it happen. Thanks for sharing that.

Huh. I've never read The Neverending Story, but that rather reminds me of something Pratchett likes to bring up (I think explicitly in Hogfather, in relation to Jason Ogg): that when you are the best at what you do, your reward - and your burden - is that you are the best at what you do. Whether it's an ant or Death's steed, if you're the guy who can shoe it, you're the guy who has to.

Also, Tolkien expounds upon applicability and his distrust of allegory in the forward to the second edition of The Lord of the Rings. Sorry I never gave references before. :P

Thank you! Oh, you probably did say where you read it, I just didn't take note.

Your dreams and skills do define you in more ways than one.

Ahh, I love this book.

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