Ritual ★★★★½

There was a time in my life where I longed to die.

Wake up, go to class, go to work, go to bed. Wash, rinse, repeat. The tedium, the monotony, a mask to help me confront the crushing loneliness I felt at the time. Wake up, go to class, go to work, go to bed. Wash, rinse, repeat. I wanted to heal the hole in my heart, but no matter how often I reached out, I only seemed to be digging my grave further. Wake up, go to class, go to work, go to bed. Wash, rinse, repeat. Every day, I dragged myself through the tedium, the inconveniences of life ruling my perception of the arbitrary march of time. Wake up, go to class, go to work, go to bed. Wash, rinse, repeat. One day, it might be my car breaking down; another day, I get hurt at work; yet another, I get food poisoning. Wake up, go to class, go to work, go to bed. Wash, rinse, repeat.

There's something so artless about living in a rut. You can try to hide your pain, hiding in fiction, hiding in song, but you'll always be found. I was so ugly and so broken then, so willing to let my heart take control of my mind, even if it was so I could throw myself off a cliff. Escapism was never a solution so much as it was a postponement; even one of my "better days" only served to alleviate my anxiety, before I would be struck down harder than ever when the next day approached.

I had my rituals, just as everyone does. My route to work, my carefully curated calendar, my addiction to art, those years I spent staring at screens throughout the months of my agony. I went to therapy, I joined community groups, I did everything "right." I craved to find sense in the senselessness of my depression, to find an answer to my pain so that I could keep that invisible assailant in the back of my mind at bay.

Of course, the answer never came.

We live by images, finding respite from the world we have constructed through the images we construct for each other. Our lies and mistakes shape our world, fiction becoming truth as semiotic patterns take on real value. By watching, writing, and rating this, I acknowledge that I find a certain sense of truth in Hideaki Anno's art, that his symbols are more potent to me than those of others; as Ritual so poignantly explains, however, these lies are all the same. We can never find a true answer when everything on this Earth is a reflection of how we have shaped the world, and fleeing from our pain in order to find solace in this fiction is the greatest lie of all.

The Girl here, the subject of the camera, the escape for the Director, has constructed the ultimate cocoon. Her space, the reflection of her heart, is so complex in the construct it represents. It is her shelter, her peace, her fear, her joy, her mystery, and her nightmare. The Director can try to document this, but nobody can really document the human heart, so strange and broken as we are. What resolution this story holds, as beautiful as it is, is merely the first step in opening her heart. She needs to free herself from her pain, just as we all do; no document can heal our pain, even if they give us the courage and insight needed to start the process.

I'm better now.

I don't dream of dying, the pitiful escape from the confusion of my soul. I don't fear myself as I once do, nor do I linger on my mistakes so intensely as I once did, and I treasure my existence so much more with every passing day. I still love what I love, hate what I hate, regret what I regret, and fear what I fear. There are still the days, hours, and moments where that invisible assailant threatens to take the reins, to undo all that I have fought to preserve within me; I've learned how to fight against it though, and truly think I'm stronger now.

I don't want to be ruled by my rituals and petty routine anymore. I want to appreciate the world around me for what it is, lies and all, but to never let it define me. I want to find purpose from within, to love myself for what I am, and to find peace with all that I struggle with.

I may never be well, but I can always get better.

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