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I don’t feel much like I can write these days. The reasons are … what they are. I have been told that writing helps in times like this. Perhaps it will, or does, so I try. And, as I write, the words I can manage … well … I suppose … that Queen Tera comes to find me in my darkness and gives me a lesson about whether things are …
Light or Dark
One of the things that Tera has to deal with—and, for that matter, so does everyone that calls the Realm “home” and happens to have horns and a tail—is a question that is asked over and over again by those who don’t have a clue:
“Are you evil or good?”
There is an obvious reason for this question—the horns and tail—but at the same time the question itself brings about questions about the one that asked the question in the first place.
This, then, is what underpins the question: perception.
In any event, Tera often finds herself being confronted and asked the question. As she doesn’t like to hide her tail or horns, this is something she finds herself dealing with to the point she could almost set the train schedules, if there were any in this particular universe, by.
Sometimes the question is asked in some sort of court, a tribal council, a meeting of elders. Regardless of the place, of those asking the question, Tera’s reply is true to herself for she can do nothing less: “I find it interesting that you ask about evil first, then good. Why is that, I wonder?” The questioner then suggests, or insists, that she is trying to avoid the question, which usually results in Tera pinching the bridge of her nose and sighing: “No. I am trying to understand why you have seemingly made up your mind.” This generally makes her questioner snort in derision, make a snide comment or, if it is an especially good day, their answer makes her smile. Much of the time there is reference made to one deity or another, while insisting that she is not of the light. Her answer is, again, seemingly obvious: “All beings are their children, no matter their look, existence or purpose.”
It is not, sadly, a rare occurrence when they take offence at her reply. There comes a long, quite forceful, statement of what they see as fact. She, of course, listens attentively, sometimes tracing a fingertip over her lips in thought. Allowing them to say their peace, whatever it may be, is only being respectful.
When they are done, out of breath or otherwise, then, at that point, it is Tera’s turn. “The thing about having preconceived conclusions is that they are, for the most part, illusions. Your books speak of good and evil. They offer means to see if one is, or is not, one or the other. Your wiser souls have transcended that level of knowledge and seen beyond, to place their vision upon that which Goddess wrote long before you came to be.”
Her expression generally shows slight disappointment in her accusers. They look at her in defiance, about to interrupt, but she holds up a single finger: “I allowed your words. In the spirit of understanding, one does allow the other to have their moment as well.”
Bluster comes, an attempt to find some sort of law, word, or anything which would put an end to her reply. However, before that can go even a bit too far, there comes another voice, sometimes of an elder, other times of an inquisitive younger soul. Once in a while a child asks a seemingly innocent question. Having no recourse, and feeling foolish for the first time in their encounter with her, they sulk back to their place and watch.
“The question is not whether I am good or evil, as has been asked. The question is, why is it so necessary to ask? What has happened here that when a different soul arrives, seeking nothing from anyone, save to learn, that some are threatened by this?” The Queen moves away from the chair, or witness box, or some other place she has been settled to in order to walk among the accusing souls and consider them. As she passes some by, there is clear attraction to her. Others are repelled; the reasons are their own. Some are indifferent, others impatient to return to their lives.
Somewhere in the room she pauses, her tail moving slowly behind her. Guards in the room tense, the judges are concerned. The prosecutor flinches. The audience, or spectators, depending on the venue, await the next moment with anticipation.
“Light is within each of us. Dark is as well. For each soul, each life, a choice is made to embrace one or the other, or so you might think. In truth each and everyone here has been both, one or the other, or shades thereof.”
Her smile is, always, bemused. “I am not the right hand of Goddess, though I know her and love her dearly.”
This admission brings gasps.
“I am not the hand of evil, though I know of them and have no time for them.”
This brings confusion.
“I am the Queen of my Realm, the Eternal of my King. I am called sister and loved for being so. I love, with joy and passion, my dearest loves, I hold them with me always.”
This makes some give pause and look upon their own lives.
“I am the mother to a son who loves me.”
These words bring nods from those that know what these words mean. They are far more than words alone.
“I am the Dear One of my heart. The singularly most cherished words I know.”
Silence comes over the assembled masses, as she has their attention now.
“You ask me your question and yet do not ask the question of yourselves. You seek solace from the questions within you by projecting your own shades towards me. I cannot help answer your own questions, but I can offer this.”
Her focus is on the assembled souls, her gaze accepting, as it always is, as she always is. “If you ask me to leave, I shall. I hold no ill will. If I am allowed to stay, then, I hope, we can learn from each other.” Turning back to the judge or elders or other authority, she concludes, “The choice is yours, it always is. You must choose, whether light or dark; none else can.”
She walks back to the place where it had all started, waiting for their answer. Either way, she thinks, Goddess knows what will come. In one way, there will be light shared, in another the light will be the moment she was given with them. Regardless of the outcome, she knows one pure thing:
Light and dark are not good or evil. No one should ever see them as being the same.
The concept of giving absolution is, at times, a complicated thing. There are many levels to consider, many possible means to achieve it. But the thing about this particular point is that one cannot simply just ask for …
In every life there comes a time when one must reflect on one’s past. In doing so, one finds there are things done which one isn’t proud of. Those aren’t, always, a problem. One can justify such actions to oneself, to cloak the truth away such that others will never really see it.
However, sometimes there are things that cannot be justified. A moment, something said, an action preformed, something which nags within one’s thoughts, even if they are not completely aware of it always being so. Sometimes, one must face this, to come to terms with it, to try to ask for absolution for what has been. Sometimes there is but one person that can answer the question and give an answer, if one happens to be listening for it—or, for that matter, willing to accept it.
On this day in the Realm the sky was as blue as it always was, the Lake of Fire was calm, reflecting the land that bordered upon it. The clouds surrounded the mountains as they always did and, overall, the Realm was managing as it was meant to, save for one soul who was, at that moment, making her way through the Realm, a specific destination in mind.
Tera, the Queen of the Realm, needed to ask someone a question. The problem was that she wasn’t expecting any sort of answer. Whenever she had spoken to this person in the past, she’d never heard an actual answer. There was no voice to say what the person thought. There was no expression of whether or not her words were even heard.
She had spoken to this person in many different ways, some very personal, some very public. She’d expressed her thoughts about things to others who offered their perspective and made suggestions, and she was given thoughts to consider. She had, of course, examined every one of them, considered each carefully, and did the best she could do. In the end, all of her thoughts and considerations had brought her to this journey where she found herself.
All beings in the universes have, in one way or another, a belief in something. For some, it’s a little bit easier because they know, truly, there is another watching. For some, they have, at least once, been in the presence of Light in the universe.
In the Realm exists a place called the House of Light—a place in which the Goddess of Light is given her proper respect and due. To describe the place is very difficult because ti appears differently for each soul. No two see it exactly in the same way. As Tera stood outside of the arched entryway, what she saw was something she never quite could put into words. The best she could do was describe a wonderful, warm place of love and light that shone brightly over the Realm.
Her expression this day was slightly troubled, her thoughts being about what she was going to ask, even while sure that she’d never actually receive an answer. Still, the words needed to be said, she thought, and she began to walk into the House to speak.
Passing into the bright, pure light, she vanished from view; the Realm lost sight of her. For Tera, her first thought was that she must have made a wrong turn, but she was sure she hadn’t passed through Albuquerque. That thought came because she found herself standing beside a certain fence that she knew intimately well.
“You realize, I hope, you have nothing to ask absolution for?”
She smiled, it was her heart and his council was, as always, true.
“Oh … I think I have many things my heart.”
“What you have, Dear One, is your love which drives you.”
“That’s not it.”
“You have your compassion, which you give freely.”
“You have your passion, for every soul you touch.”
“You have your generosity, giving freely without asking for anything in return.”
“You are, in more ways than I can count, precious to so many.”
“Never really see that, my heart. It’s …”
“… not how you are, Dear One. Yes, I know.”
He was silent for a time, and she was looking around wondering just how it was she came to be at the fence.
“You know … I’m not sure why I’m here, exactly.”
He shook his head slightly: “Oh, I am.”
“Goddess speaks to us in the here and now, but not in ways that you expect … that’s why she brought us together. You, my Dear One, are looking for absolution. But she’s not the one to give that to you.”
“Then who, my heart, should I be talking to?”
Her heart, the one that knew her so very well, just looked at her. When she realized the answer, she pinched her nose and sighed. He just smiled.
“She’s … a bit too stubborn to listen, you know.”
“Yes, she is … at least when it comes to forgiving herself. However, beneath those red horns and behind those so-green eyes, she’s actually a wonderful soul. She might, if given a chance, find a way to give herself absolution.”
Resting her arms on the edge of the fence, that particular red horned woman they were taking about considered. “I think she’s not willing to accept that she’s worthy of absolution.”
“That’s because she, sometimes, can only see her faults and not the light she is.”
“Oh … she sees them both.”
“Seeing them isn’t the same thing as accepting them.”
“The path to absolution starts inside of each of us, Dear One. Accept that and, perhaps, you’ll find the way.”
The world cascaded into shimmering light and Tera found herself once more in the House of Light. Once more the Realm saw her and she saw the Realm anew.
That evening, as was her custom and joy, she met her heart at the fence.
“Hello, my heart.”
“Hello, Dear One.”
“I had the most unusual day.”
“I had a conversation about absolution.”
“Really? Do tell.”
She leaned over the fence slightly and kissed his cheek: “That story, my heart, begins with a soul of Light that is wiser than he knows and ends with a soul of Light who learned something she didn’t know before.”
He blushed: “You’re welcome, Dear One. But it was not me so much as Goddess working in and through me.”
She smiled: “Whoever it was, thank you, my heart.”
“Anytime and always, Dear One.”
To find absolution within means accepting that need in yourself and seeing the way clear to believing you are worthy of it. But it also, many times, takes the wisdom of another to show you the way. And, Goddess knows even better than Queen Tera that she is never, ever alone.
In our effort to constantly evolve sometimes you need to look from the ground up. When The Old Reader started, it was (and still kinda is) “the ultimate social RSS reader for The Open Web.” Our old logo represented multiple RSS feeds coming together in one place. But if I had a slice of pizza for every time someone asked us “what’s RSS?” we’d have a lot of pepperoni.
The Old Reader stands for delivering you content you love, all in one place. It’s the one website to rule them all. You don’t have to know what RSS is. Just plug in some websites and go. So we wanted to give ourselves a little facelift so that people knew this is for everyone. You OR you OR you. If you like technology OR design OR cat videos. If you’re on desktop OR tablet OR mobile. There are feeds of content for you to tap into. And we think our new logo achieves that.
Look for the new look and design in the app itself in the near future. But as always, you are a part of this community. We want this community to grow so it’s a better experience for us all. Do you think this logo will help us do that? Does it feel more approachable? Will it blow up the internet like the new Instagram logo? We hope so. Will there be millions of posts on “designers react to The Old Reader logo redesign?” Our designer hopes not. We don’t care about their opinion, we care about yours. This mark stands for us all. Read on!
I learned about 2.5D, or two and a half dimensions, from my engineering days. Turns out it’s really quite common to make 2.5D things because, for example, it’s easy to drill or mill down into something, and a pain to turn something on it’s side and drill from the other side. Or, as with vacuum forming it’s easy to suck plastic onto a mould, but a pain to get it off if you’ve got any overhangs as you can’t lift it straight up again. Hence the plastic sandpit in our garden is a 2.5D object rather than true 3D. Civilisation in general looks rather 2.5D from the air as we tend to build up, but don’t find overhangs that easy or practical eg the pyramids.
MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN
MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN
hi! i was commissioned to make some spooky character gifs for the upcoming film Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children @peregrinesmovie which happens to be directed by one of my all-time favorite directors, Tim Burton. really fun project!
MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN
|Click to enlarge, it's magnificent|
This past weekend was my Eternal’s birthday. It was … not what we’d hoped for. There was someone not there, at least not physically. From this birthday onwards, there will be, always, someone …
It is said by many in the Realm that if there is one character trait their rulers share, it is that neither of them wishes any fuss to be made when either of their birthdays arrive. That isn’t to say they aren’t thankful for anything should it occur—which it does, for they each make sure the other’s birthday is celebrated, no matter what. The wishes given and the words shared are treasured. A card, no matter how simple, matters and is adored. Gifts—though they never wish them, and have said, over and over again, that such things are not needed—are accepted with the grace everyone expects.
This particular birthday in the Realm came during a year where there was something, or rather more importantly, someone missing. This particular birthday was the first which dawned beyond the time when a blessed soul was called home to Goddess and she answered that call.
It was, to get to the point, Keith’s first birthday after his mother had gone to her rest.
The time in-between the loss and the natal day was filled with many things, some good, some not so much so. There were moments where the pain, hurt, and ache did terrible things to the royal family of the Realm. They were bent, but not broken. They wept, but did not despair. She did, after all, express to her loving son and daughter that she did not wish them to live in the hurt for all time.
But there were some days where they keenly felt someone missing, someone that had been there before, said the words, shared the joy, gave the gifts, and was, after all, never missing … until now.
The day had dawned with the Eternals in bed together, their tails entwined, snuggled under the sheets. To say who woke first wouldn’t be the question to ask, for it didn’t really matter. What did matter was the feeling within each of them that someone was missing, a feeling which had been their constant companion of late, becoming that much more present on this morning.
She was the first, as was meant to be, to wish him a happy birthday. The words were warm, loving, holding hope that the day would be kind to him, for she was not concerned for herself. He held her close, smiled, kissed her horns and thanked her. His hope was that she wouldn’t be sad today; he had no wishes for himself. Well, there was one thing that he wanted, but she was missing.
The morning was, if one was to be honest, melancholy. The shower was long, he standing there and thinking long after she’d gotten out to deal with drying her wild mane of hair, which always took, it seemed, forever. Perhaps the time in the shower was so that his tears would be masked by the water falling upon him. He couldn’t, after all, be like this throughout the day. It wouldn’t be right, knowing what his Eternal had planned—or thinking he did, at least.
By the time he’d tucked in his shirt, run a hand through his hair, and made his way to the kitchen, the melancholy had faded slightly. It was, to be clear, a start to the day getting better in time. He shared a bagel with her, smiling, a real smile, while she talked about the evening to come. Part of the day would be missing, for the first time. Part of the day wouldn’t be the same: the comfort, the expected moments that had always been. He didn’t allow those thoughts to creep into his expression. But she knew. As she sipped at her tea, she looked at him over the rim of her mug, giving him that look that all souls entwined knew so very well. The one that said: ‘I know. It’ll be okay.’
He trusted in that. He needed to.
Much of the day was spent with the two of them being together, talking. Occasionally there was a call to be answered, from one of the family who was dearly thanked and then asked about themselves. A visit at the door came, as well, at several points in the day. Their daughter Rianna popped by, to hug her parents and tell her father she loved him. Sister Rachel called, wishing him the best, he asking about her, to be sure she was doing alright. His answer to each of them was: “Things are … okay.”
Then there was a visit from Legion, the two men—as men do—clasping hands, nodding, keeping themselves in check, not from some male need to “be strong,” but rather from an understanding that they were both managing. When asked, he admitted: “Missing her.”
A birthday song was presented by Aria, Keith chuckling at some of the more interesting passages. Her concerned question was answered, “Missing her, but things are … okay.”
Noon came and went, the day being a little bit brighter, a little more promising. Their neighbours came to the fence, to wish him well. He spoke with them both, their conversation milling about many things, many moments, many thoughts. He was asked a question, the answer being: “Missing her, today more than ever. Things are … okay.” They nodded, but knew. Afternoon came sooner than expected. He embraced their neighbours warmly, thanked them, and then turned to look upon their own home. He could just make out her, rushing about within, being busy with things she wanted done for the evening to come.
He entered their home and made his way towards the dining room. Being that this wasn’t the Palace, the space was small, and he stood there watching her gathering her utensils, pacesettings, and more. The phone diverted his attention, Uncle was calling, and a long talk about football did bring a smile. A question was answered: “Doing okay … missing her.”
He intended to go and help with things, but the next call was from his father. It was the most difficult call of all: not because of missing her, not because of it being his father. It was the most difficult because the question was asked, his answer could only be: “Love you, Dad.”
In the past. they had dressed up for dinner. Not this year. It didn’t seem important, didn’t feel, somehow, right to be celebrating even if that celebration would only be known by themselves and no one else. At her call, he walked into the dining room and paused at the doorway.
There should have been two place-settings. There were three: one for the soul missing and there, two for the souls hurting and there. The message was clear. It was one that she’d said before: souls were never missing when they were remembered. He smiled, a real smile, knowing that she’d been missing that smile. Then he opened the bottle of wine, pouring out exactly half a glass. She wasn’t missing, she was there, after all, and she would not be forgotten, especially on this day. She always had exactly one-half a wine glass’s worth, no more, no less.
He expected dinner to be a quiet thing with his Eternal, but instead found himself talking to the one missing … no… that wasn’t right: her glass was there, her place was set; she was, as ever, listening to the conversation; he could see her smile, the knowing look from time to time when he, or his Eternal, tried to dance around her questions. He found himself talking to the one he had missed.
Dinner came to a close, they putting things away. The wine glass remained half-full and was brought to their living room. The Eternals laid together on their couch, words not needing to be said. They looked at the wine glass on the table across from them, thinking about the one missing, yet not. The day wasn’t as sad as he expected; it was better than she had imagined. It wasn’t a feeling of getting through it all, but rather knowing that being missing only meant that one was missed.
None were ever missing from the lives they had brought into being, given life to. None were ever missing from the lives they had touched and taught. None were ever missing from the hearts of those that loved them. They were missed, not missing.
That is the important difference between missing and being missed … always.