Episode 6 – A Tale of Two Letters

PRE-FANTASY ANNOUNCEMENT:

Hi! It’s Morgan. I really hate it when creators talk before the show (we all know what you’re really here for), but I promise this is IMPORTANT. I really want to hear from you! So much that I will be sending a FREE sticker to everyone who fills out the questionnaire at bit.ly/motmsurvey. You can pause this episode and do it now, or wait until the end of the episode if you’d rather. I’ll put another reminder in the outro, so once you hear the outro music, you can go back to the site & fill it out. Thanks so much, and I hope you enjoy the season finale!

//

I watched my mother’s spirit fade into thin air, knowing with certainty that she wasn’t coming back. I took a deep breath, and tried to let her go, for what felt like the thousandth time.

All the adrenaline that had been rushing through my veins soured, and fatigue set in. I felt exhausted once again, sad, and angry. Hadn’t I been through enough already? What am I supposed to do now?

My eyes landed on the man still sitting on the floor next to my mother’s body.

E: “You.”

He met my gaze sadly.

E: “You did all of this. You brought back all this pain for me. You couldn’t have just let us live our lives in peace.”

K: I’m sorry for what I did. I… I was selfish. Ashley made me feel like I mattered, in a way that no one else ever had. I couldn’t let her go. I still can’t. Her last moments play through my mind every night.

K: It was an accident–I saw you leave the house on your journey that morning, and came to talk to Ashley, just the two of us. We had been seeing each other for a few weeks now, and for the first time in my life, I wanted to build a future with someone else. But that conversation turned into the same old fight: I couldn’t stay in Lethoria, my job required me to travel, and she refused to uproot her life, your life, to move somewhere new on my whims. When I stubbornly insisted she run away with me and leave you here, she asked me to leave. When I refused, she began pushing me toward the door, saying that she didn’t want to see me anymore. I was deeply hurt, terrified of losing the most wonderful thing in my life. I pushed back harder than I meant to. When I saw the blood rushing from her head, I got scared, and ran away. I kept running, wandering into the darkest depths of magic, hoping I could undo my mistake. It was never my intention to hurt her, or you, or anyone. I apologize.

E: Your words mean nothing to me

K: I know I have hurt you, and I want to make it better with my actions. Whatever you would like me to do, I will do it. My money, my power, my life– if you wish me destitute, arrested, hung, I will do it. My fate lies in your hands.

E: My jaw dropped. I had not expected Karl to mean what he said. 

E: I, uh, I….. I need some time to think.

K: I’ll be here.

//

I walked outside. Quest and Cheers glanced at Karl, then followed me into the cool night air.

Cheers looked bewildered, and Quest was watching me intently.

Q: You okay?

E: I nodded. I didn’t trust myself to speak quite yet. It hurt to lose my mother again, but at least I had some closure now. 

C: Man, I thought my family was complicated. 

*dry, humorless chuckle*

Q: What are you thinking, Eve?

E: I… have a lot of thoughts. This is a decision I need to think about. I think it might be best if I just try to write first; I don’t think I could explain anything very well right now.

C: I think I get where you’re coming from. I mean, not the whole guy-killed-your-mother-and-brought-her-back-from-the-dead thing but… how should I put this… I’m here if you need anything

Q: We’ll be here whenever you’re ready.

I appreciated Quest and Cheers’ support, but felt anxious staying so close to Karl, so close to the house. I needed to go somewhere I could think.

I wandered to a small park my mother and I used to visit, where we would watch the sun set over the mountains together. She used to tell me stories of her childhood, the life she had lived with her parents and siblings along the winding coast. She hated the fog and the chill of the ocean, craving the warmth of sunshine and rustle of trees. She learned to sing from the sailors who pulled into port, and found her calling there. She traveled for many years, meeting people from all across the realms, eventually making it here, to Lethoria, where she had me. Her story was the first one I ever wrote.

I grasped my locket tight in my hand, and undid the clasp on the side. Inside was a piece of parchment, its creases frayed from years of use. Though I knew the words by heart, I often turned to it when I felt lost; I could feel my mother’s guidance flowing through her script.

My dearest Eve,

Happy 12th birthday! It has been the greatest joy of my life to watch you grow into the fabulous young woman that you are. I am so proud of your creative, curious, and caring nature. I cannot wait to watch you continue to grow, and celebrate many other birthdays together.

All my love and respect,

Mom

Tears welled in my eyes. This was the last birthday we would ever celebrate together, because of Karl. He had taken away my mother, my life, my home, my future. He had made me an orphan and a beggar, scraping by on the kindness of strangers for the past four years. He had turned my world upside down through his thoughtless actions. He deserved to be punished, to pay for all the pain he had caused me. But is that the person I am, someone who seeks revenge and retribution?

As my mind continued to turn, I realized: despite all I had lost, I had also gained so much. I had found a different place, a different role for myself. If my mother was still alive, would I have found my calling as a scribe? Would I have met Quest or Cheers? Would I be the same person I am now? 

I know I’m not the person I used to be. That life was years ago, and it’s impossible to know what could have been. I’m still learning, still growing, still changing into the person I’m becoming. I guess the question isn’t who am I, but who do I want to be, and how can I get there?

At the end of the day, what did I want from this decision? Did I want to make Karl pay, force him to experience all the pain he had caused me? If I turned him in, the law would hang him: an eye for an eye, a life for a life. In some ways it seemed fair, but would it really make the world a better place? What good is a justice system if it only hurts, and does not help society? Retributive justice didn’t feel right. I wanted peace.

I didn’t want to be the girl whose mother had died; that was why I had left here in the first place, and why I didn’t want to stay. I don’t want to define myself by someone else’s actions, and I don’t want my future to be weighed down with the responsibility of Karl’s life. 

This shouldn’t be my decision. Karl has to repent on his own, learn how to be a better person. There was some good in him, I had seen it, but it wasn’t my job to force him to reveal it. 

I looked back at the letter in my hands. My mother had forgiven Karl for taking her life, so that she could move on. She always said holding grudges hurts you more than the person you’re holding it against.

Karl said he wanted to make things better. If that was true, there were things he could do, but I didn’t care to follow up. I didn’t want to see him, couldn’t bear to see my mother’s body.

Karl,

I refuse to take responsibility for your life and your decisions. I want nothing more to do with you. I don’t want your actions to define who I am, and I want no part of this burden weighing on the person I will become.

If you meant what you said, and truly want to make things better, I have written some things you can do. It’s up to you.

Bury my mother and honor her memory. Plant flowers on her grave and allow something new to grow. Put to rest any and all creations you resurrected; it is not your place to overcome the power of Nature.

Step down from your position as the head of the Big Bard Guild. You have shown that you cannot be trusted with power, and you should remove yourself from any and all such temptation. 

Finally, if you truly want to help me, help others in my place. Donate your money to orphanages, to children you see on the street, to families that have been torn apart. Donate your time to help care for those same people. Make this world a better place for others who have been hurt. 

I have forgiven you, not because you deserve it, but because I’m done. I hope you find it in your heart to be a better person.

Eve

I walked back to the house.

Cheers and Quest were holding hands on the doorstep, quietly giggling to each other. When Quest felt my gaze, she looked up.

Q: So… what do we do now?

E: Nothing.

I took out the letter I had written, and slipped it through the door.

E: Let’s go home.

C: You sure? I feel like we could take him

*laugh*

E: That’s okay, honestly. I’ve written some suggestions in the letter. He’ll do them or he won’t, but there’s nothing I can do about that. I just want to let it go and focus on my future.

Q: Whatever you want, we’re here for you

C: Team Queers is here for whatever you need!


E: What do you mean, Queers?

C: Quest and Cheers, duh

*laughs*

The three of us fell into step, walking back toward the mountains. My feet ached at the sign of them, but more than anything, I just wanted to go home.

Summer was in the air, grasses swaying in the breeze. We walked down the path, Quest and Cheers by my side, and the entire rest of my life stretched out in front of me. 

// outro music

Magic of the Mind is a podcast set in the Forgotten Realms of Dungeons and Dragons that communicates topics in cognitive science. If you want to learn more about the theories of identity written into this episode, keep listening for the science behind the story interview with Eve-Marie Blouin-Hudon, an identity & creativity researcher. 

If you want to receive a FREE Magic of the Mind sticker, take the survey at bit.ly/motmsurvey. I’ll give you a few seconds to open it! Exit the podcast app, open your web browser, type in “bit.ly/motmsurvey”, and you’re there!  liked this show, let me know! By leaving a review on apple podcasts, podchaser, or wherever you get your podcasts. If you’d like to get some cool swag, we do sell magic of the mind stickers on our website, magicofthemind.ca, but really, the best thing you can do is get the word out there, whether that’s sharing us on social media or telling your friends & family; it all makes a difference.

This podcast was made with support from Building 21, a McGill space for innovative and collaborative creation. Thanks to Emily Sheeran for reprising her role as Quest, Haidee Pangalinan as Cheers, Yves Abanda as Karl, and Anita Parmar as Ashley. Huge thanks to Florestan Bruck for composing Eve’s themes and Dorothea Stefanou for creating our beautiful logo. Additional thanks to Thomas Barrett for scripting and early draft edits. 

Also a huge thanks to all of you who made it here! It’s been a really fun time. We also added some new social medias — find us on Instagram @Magicofthemindpod, Magic of the Mind on Facebook, or Twitter @magicofthemind1. All the links can also be found on our website, magicofthemind.ca

Keep in touch! We will be producing a second season, and once I have a release date I’ll let you know. I can’t wait to hear your favorite moments + the things you want to learn about!!!! Seriously, fill out the form at bit.ly/motmsurvey, or contact me at any of our social medias.

I’m Morgan; thanks for listening.

INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT

Hi, it’s Morgan, recording the FINAL episode of season 1 from inside my closet in Chicago! This one has been a long time coming– in fact, this was actually the first interview I recorded for Magic of the Mind! Way back in October, I knew I wanted my final episode to be about identity, and a friend of mine at Building 21 said she knew someone who did some cool identity research. Long story short, Eve the researcher came by, and we recorded this in November, when I was still recording episode 1! So you may notice this interview, like the ones for episodes 4 and 5, is a bit more free-flowing, because I wrote the script for the actual episode afterwards.

The line between identity and the self is very blurry, so I’ll start out with some basic definitions. In psychology, the self means the person we are, the thing that separates us from others and allows us to have our own conscious experience. In this context, identity is how we categorize and try to make sense of our selves. One way this has been done is through the perspective of “me” and “I” selves.

According to this theory, the “me” self is the one who experiences things, who tastes chocolate and feels happy, whereas the “I” self is the one that watches the “me” self. The I self judges and evaluates why I feel happy. In the episode, when Eve is evaluating how she should respond to Karl, I wrote Eve’s “me” self as the one who felt all the pain Karl had caused her. But upon reflection, Eve’s “I” self kicked in, which started to evaluate who Eve wanted to be moving forward.

Which leads me to the second topic– how identity can change over time. Since this interview in November, almost everyone has had a major identity shift. My identity changed from that of a student in Montreal to a working adult in Chicago; for others, changing jobs, hobbies, working from home, be a full-time parent, and seeing fewer people, are all examples of major shifts in how you live your life, which all factors into your identity. Times like these are really hard, because you lose a piece of yourself. It’s normal to feel lost and dissociated, as many people did back in March. But the upside now is that this shift can allow us to reshape our identity, bring in new aspects of ourselves, with the possibility of post-traumatic growth. 

The death of Eve’s mother was a major identity shift for Eve, where she changed from a daughter to an orphan. With support of others, Eve was able to grow into an independent and built a new life for herself. The confrontation with Karl was another opportunity for Eve to figure out who she is and wants to be, what her identity looks like. 

The last thing I wrote into this episode is the idea of future selves, and how imagining them can shape our current self. When Eve is reflecting on her decision, she asks questions like Who do I want to be? What should I do to get there? Taking the time to be aware of her goals allowed her to move forward in becoming that version of herself!

To explain a bit more about these different theories of identity, here’s Eve-Marie Blouin-Hudon, an identity & creativity researcher! 

//

Hey– it’s me again with one last takeaway.

The idea of building a future self is simultaneously exciting and nerve-wracking. It is excruciatingly difficult to build a relationship with your future self when the future seems so uncertain. I get it–there are so many things outside your control. It’s easy to feel helpless.

But remember, it’s the “me” self who feels all that, and that’s where the “I” self gets to come in. There are things we can’t control, but we can control our perception of who we are and the world we live in. We can tell ourselves “I’m a failure, I’m not good enough”, or we can try to shift that narrative to “I’m not perfect, but I’m growing, and I will keep growing”

I don’t think anyone could have expected that the world would look how it does right now. I’m lucky that the hardships have resolved themselves, and the world feels like it’s all coming together. Trust and faith and hope that everything happens for a reason–or at least our brains will tell us that it does.

More reflective or spiritual practices — though often associated with organized religion — , journaling, meditating, praying, taking time to reflect and set intentions are incredibly beneficial for building that relationship with your future self. No one wants to wake up one day wondering where all the time went! Taking time consistently to build that intention and get where you want to go is imperative.

So, my last call to action is for you to take some time to reflect with your I self, figure out what kinds of practices you can use to build that relationship. It always pays off in the long run.

//

A huge thank you to Eve-Marie Bluoin-Hudon for coming in to talk about identity! This was a really fun and interesting conversation. Thanks as always to Florestan Brunck and Dorothea Stefanou for our theme music and logo, respectively. If you haven’t filled out our season 1 survey yet, check it out at bit.ly/motmsurvey (pretty please! Not only do I get so happy when I hear from you, but also I can use this research for funding applications for season 2!) Thank you so much for sticking around on this journey with me; I’ve had a great time, learned a lot, and am excited to keep going. If you want to keep in touch, find us @magicofthemindpod on instagram, Magic of the Mind on Facebook, @magicofthemind1 on twitter, or email on our website, magicofthemind.ca! I’m Morgan; thanks for listening.

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