Into the Heart of Darkness

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Be aware, this post contains shocking material that some may find disturbing.

This happens to be my favourite Indiana Jones movie. I know, please don’t throw popcorn at me, maybe it is a little racist and perhaps a screaming Willie is not for the faint-hearted, but it is an old fashioned roller-coaster of an adventure. Literally in fact, with the mine car chase and the slide down the mountains in a dinghy. This was theme-park fodder before Disney smarmed their way into Lucasfilm.

Wait, what are you doing talking about a 1984 prequel to a successful movie that people regard as too dark…oh…that’s the reason.

Yes folks, in this age of superhero building smashing we’re going back to a hero who turned dark and epitomised what it is to have emotions. This is Indy, and his heart of darkness.

Movies and our emotions are inextricably linked; because they are stories, and stories are handed down from generation to generation in order to teach us lessons about life. Indiana Jones is a mythological hero, and in Temple of Doom he really does take on the role, being the saviour who fell from the sky in order to retain sacred stones that will restore life to a small village in India. In order to get these stones he has to enter into hell, and through doing so he discovers his darkness; first of all when force-fed blood that makes him evil; and then when discovering the children of the village being used as slaves, which enrages and empowers him.

He emerges from hell and into the light where he is washed with water and then recovers the stones from a man trying to scoop out his heart with his fingers. Yum, soft-scoop.

Well, I may be the only one here but that there journey reminds me of my mental health. It reminds me of life; it reminds me of myths and it re-assures me that when we fall into the dark, we do have a chance to climb back to the light.

Darkness is all around us, just as much as the light. We need balance in our lives, otherwise we would not be human. I find that the trouble is, when I slip into the shadows, I feel guilt and shame for doing so. I question why I am never happy, or that I will never get out of this; it is too big, too daunting; too tiring. The fact that I was happy days before is quickly erased and turned into a endless spiral of misery and regret. The voice emerges sounding off about how shit I am and the world around me. The task is too great, the challenge too big. How can I win a war when all around me is heavy and clouded?

Here is a little trick that Short Round (Indy’s young sidekick for this movie) played on Indiana Jones when he was immersed in his evil dark state; he shocked him into waking up. In the film he gets a stick of fire and flashes it at his father figure and hero; the heat snaps at Jones who instantly awakes from his all encompassing gloom. He sees where he is, and he says to himself – enough is enough.

Please don’t set a flame to your skin, that would be foolish and probably hurt a great deal, and could cause damage to more stuff than just you. But we do need a wake up call from time to time. I know from experience that I could stay in bed all day, not go out, not talk to anyone, not challenge myself, not take a risk, not move forward, watch shit tv, not read a book because that would be too much effort. I could easily slip into that were it not for one thing, the one thing that keeps me going:


When I was going through episodes of suicide I had that small voice in my head trying to get through the hateful wall of sound – I WANT TO LIVE.

When I feel low and crap and sluggish and tired and like hell I have a small echo resounding around my soul and my mind – I WANT TO LIVE.

It may be small, but it is there, undeniable. My self-harming was a way to release that pressure inside, and thankfully I don’t want to do that anymore. But I still need to give myself a shock into waking and remembering what it is that is important to me – I WANT TO LIVE.

I don’t use fire like Short Round, I use words and try to think of the things that I want to do. I try my damnedest to silence the guilt, and give myself a break. Life can build up and the pressure can get to us all, so allow breaks to do something that you love to do. It could be sitting quietly, it could be reading, it could be watching an Indiana Jones movie. It’s up to you to help you as much as it is up to me to make me feel ok.

We all have a heart of darkness. It is that spot that can snap into anger, fall into despair or hang over like a cloud. It is perfectly normal to have this, because it means that you are a successful human being who allows all emotions to have a voice, whether they are light or dark. It is right and correct to recognise your heart of darkness, to see it for what it is; and then like Indy and Short Round, shock it out and use that energy it created to do something good, like saving all the child slaves in the mine. You get what I mean…I hope.

Thanks for tuning in this week; see more of my posts or subscribe to get the next one direct into your in-box. I talk mental-health, I talk love, madness and movies.

Here’s my book, which is also a show for the theatre.

Published by zacthrav

writer - performer and general lover...that doesn't mean I love generals...of movies and pop culture. Tackling Mental Health using my super powers.

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