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It occurred to me today that I don’t have a picture of the elements up on my wall, and that it was about time I printed one out and slapped it up there. So I went on a bit of an odyssey for the right image. I found many beautiful pieces of art, from pictures of the Elements themselves as gems, to images of their current manifestations (necklace, necklace, necklace, crown thingy, necklace, necklace, …), to abstract interpretations of what the virtues themselves are supposed to mean. I even found some truly inspiring pics of the Mane Six. But there was one piece above all that really stuck out.
It’s not terribly epic. It’s not niftily abstract. It’s just a very well done vector of the elements as first we see them in Episode 2. It’s not the sort of thing that typically makes your jaw drop and say “Sweet Celestia, what beautiful art!” But it’s what ended up on my wall to inspire me in my daily life, and in my brain-itty brain as I write up little essays like this. Why?
The most potent magic in the entire world sat there and gathered moss. For a thousand years! This Grail, this reservoir of positive energy, these relics so powerful that they can weaponize the magic of friendship itself and channel it into an unstoppable force of good in the world, these items so powerful that they established Celestia and Luna’s sovereignty when used to conquer Discord…
Without pure hearts to guide them, they’re nothing more than a useless bunch of rocks.
I love the Mane Six, and frequently derive joy and inspiration from their various exploits. Acts of nobility, acts of selfishness, acts of redemption. Lessons learned. Wrongs forgiven by understanding friends.
But when I think of the Elements of Harmony, I don’t just think only of what the Mane Six have achieved, but what has yet to be achieved. What I might one day achieve.
That crumbling structure in the castle: it’s a sleeping giant—a power waiting to be awoken. It’s in all of us – this magic. Every time we give comfort to our friends, or even strangers; every time we’re kind and generous; when we summon the courage to live with integrity, and to be honest regardless of the personal cost; when we share joy with our fellow man through benevolent laughter; when we are loyal and true to ourselves, our beliefs, and our friends, then we get a little bit closer to that magic.
Sometimes, in your finest moments, you can get a taste of that power. Wield it even! (Just a little bit). And in your darkest hour, when you’ve screwed up, and that magic feels so very far away? Just remind yourself that you are defined as a person not just by what you find, but also by what you seek.
The real point is that process of picking yourself up and trying again—of endeavoring to be a better person, of hungering for that magic in your life, of charging for it with all you have. The Elements of Harmony are unfathomably powerful, but they are still paperweights without a heart to live in.
A grail is meant to be quested for. Otherwise, it’s just a cup. The Elements? Some dusty old rocks in a weird fountain-statue-looking thingy in a faraway castle.
The real magic is you.
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Last month concluded the Mane 6 spotlight of the Micro-Series. The next few issues will continue the micro-series by looking at the secondary characters, starting with the Cutie Mark Crusaders. Did Ted Anderson and Ben Bates bring the same level of show accuracy as they did in Issue #5? Well, click below to find out.
Button’s Adventures is a new fan animation series cowritten by the talented JanAnimations and ShadyVox. Button’s Adventures follows the life of background pony Button Mash, who was introduced in the MLP episode “Hearts and Hooves Day.” A trailer leading up to the premiere has shown that the series is going to be a comedy and even feature Button Mash’s parents. Knowing the fact that this fan animation is of a background character that hasn’t had any canon story prior, can we enjoy JanAnimations and ShadyVox’s take on the character? Most importantly, is their show anything to write home about? Check after the break to find out!
First a disclaimer: It was Friday morning; I was still at home; my luggage struggled against the constraints of bag, backpack, and suitcase like a business of young ferrets smuggled in a bilby’s pouch; and I still imagined I would see enough of GalaCon 2013 to write an insightful report like Gendid’s. As it is, you’ll have to put up with this limited account of hugs, charity, and one purposeful omission.
If you attended GalaCon and would like to contribute your account of a panel, a reunion with friends, or any other experience you relished, please feel free to augment this report with your comment. Otherwise do what I’ll do too, subscribe to Ponyville Live, and watch the panel recordings as they come out. What is also going to come out are the interviews with the guests of honor, a collaboration between Derpy Hooves News and Ponyville Live—which is to say that I helped a little with the questions, and everything else is the work of Sleepypony and his team.
Late Friday evening I reached the venue after an eight-hour bus ride plus some minor commutery. It was a lot like reaching one of those doors in an old Super Mario game that said “goal” on top in a slightly pixely font. When you entered, you’d find yourself in a room with a little game of chance that might award you a mushroom or a strawberry. In my case it was a veggie burger. Many thanks, Hunoldo; I needed it!
I also gained a new life, that of the convention charity liaison and representative for Bronies for Good and Your Siblings. As a side effect, my body conveniently forgot to get hungry for the rest of the weekend.
On Saturday morning, Perry asked me to introduce our charity program to the attendees during the opening ceremonies as part of the introductions of the guests of honor. Thus waiting for my turn in the backstage area, I couldn’t help but exploit my opportune position to hug people, in particular all five show guests. Whee!
What I summarized on stage a few minutes later was a more nervous version of the roughly seven points that I would proceed to explain throughout both days to hundreds of attendees:
- As representative of Bronies for Good and Your Siblings, I accepted donations for a preview the Seeds of Kindness 3 fundraiser
- Donations to this fundraiser first benefit an orphanage project in Uganda and then a project that supports street children in Burundi
- Your Siblings forwards these donations in full, so that every cent donated reaches the projects
- As thank you for the donors, we had various Bronies for Good buttons, Ultra Pro playmats, Equestrian coins, GalaCon posters and postcards, and later even art that artists had spontaneously drawn at the booth to add it to the donation incentives
- Moreover, donors had the chance
- To preorder our upcoming charity album A Beautiful Heart
- To join our blood donation pledge drive Nurse Redheart’s Roundup
- And finally, to write letters to our projects.
Unfortunately I had learned the day before—while sharing a copy of Friendship is Witchcraft 9, because we had no fast-enough Internet access—that due to a lack of guards and some rescheduling to compensate for it, Yeti, my help at the charity booth, was needed in the main hall most of the time, so apart from a few breaks to scour the vendor booths for a pullover and other unavoidable activities during which Sand subbed for me, the above list is a comprehensive account of most of my Saturday and Sunday—and it was so worth it! The donations at the charity booth alone went a long way in funding the outstanding needs of Another Hope that still kept them from moving into their new and almost complete orphanage building.
What provided the greatest push, however, was of course the charity auction. At first I sat uncomfortably central on the stage but soon had the idea to arrange for the guests of honor to take the front row, so I could retreat to the back where JayJay protocolled the winning bids. Ponyville Live (subscribe to them!) will soon upload the proper recording of the event, but until then, enjoy Peter New in hugging vestments (different perspective), a Fluttershy cute-off between Andrea and Anneli (different perspective), and Andrea’s vocal cover of Hush Now, Quiet Now. Throughout the remaining several hours of the auction, I did what I do professionally anyway and solved some backend problems of the auction, while Perry ensnared the attendees with her silver tongue, when, for example, an opened Fanta bottle sold for €60 or the signed GalaCon 2013 banner went for €1,100.
All in all, more than €14,000 went to the good cause, fully funding the expansion of the Ugandan orphanage and mostly funding one of their auxiliary project, a guest house on the same site that will afford them more income to take care of such expenditures are the children’s school fees and medical care.
The subsequent closing ceremonies concluded GalaCon, sadly, but the influence of the convention will be felt for a long time—indefinitely even, barring major disasters, as the nonprofits that Your Siblings supports are entirely independent, an independence that their new projects will bolster while allowing them to extend their altruism to a greater number of children.
Oh, and the purposeful omission was just something funny someone said that made my weekend. Don’t worry ’bout it.
BronyCon is back, and this year it’s bigger than ever. DHN was there to get an impression on the biggest pony convention in the United States. Find out what this reporter thinks of the event after the break! Read more →
“The Kindness Game” is a revised version of an essay I posted to the Real Men Watch My Little Pony Facebook group in June of 2012.
Today, because of rain, what should have been an easy commute lasted two hours. It involved a lot of standing in crunched up awkward positions that wreaked havoc on my lousy back. The bus ride was crowded, painful, and pretty much impossible to walk away from without feeling like utter garbage.
However, somewhere along the journey, I whipped out my phone, and I happened to look at a piece of Fluttershy fan art. It dawned on me that there was another way. I came up with something I call The Kindness Game.
It sounds lame, but hear me out. Ordinarily, your natural impulse in a situation like that is to get mad. You can’t help that. But why let an uncomfortable situation rob you of all the ponyjoy you’ve built up in your heart?
Anger is about power, and it rises up when you feel powerless. Your physical well-being is depleted, and your sense of the way it ought to befeels violated. Then, to top it off, when it’s all over, you end up feeling regret because you didn’t act according to your best nature when you were angry. Anger, bio-chemically speaking, makes you act like a great big jerk.
That’s why you turn it into a game. Here’s how you play. If something frustrates you, you turn around and be positive anyway. You smile at the bus driver, you drop a buck in a homeless guy’s cup, you give up your seat to someone significantly more infirm than you. Then you say to yourself, “Score! I totally didn’t let that situation defeat me!”
I’m not saying you turn your anger inward. I’m not saying you let it bottle up inside. I’m saying attack the problem at its source. In a situation that there’s no way to pragmatically fix, rather than feel powerless and get angry, can totally own the day. You do it by realizing that kindness is still an option left open to you.
The way to defeat a bad situation like that is to refuse to let it bring you down. Today, on the bus, I found little excuses to do something nice for other people. It was totally like playing a game, and once I looked at it like that, I played it aggressively.
I actually got the biological impulse for rage to translate into physical acts of kindness. Pretty soon I was acting like Pinkie Pie, and aiming to win me some smiles, but I felt more like Snowflake (Yeahhhhhh!).
Then, just like that, I wasn’t angry anymore. I no longer felt powerless. It had been that simple all along. Sure, at the end of the commute, my back still hurt, (and it would have regardless), but I came out, for the most part, feeling pretty fantastic, because the situation sucked, and I got to say to myself “I played the Kindness Game, and I bucking won” (Snowflake: “Yeeeeaahhhh!”).
Anger of course, has its place. As a parent, I bring it with me to every single school meeting to ensure that I’m the best advocate I can be for my child. Anger also fuels action against social injustice. However, in most day-to-day situations, it just consumes us – gives us ulcers. Those are the situations where you whip out the Kindness Game.
NOTE: I am not sharing this to brag of my minor victories. I’m sharing this to thank the fandom for being the inspiration for this game, (after all, it was a piece of brony-made fan art that pulled me out of the gutter in the first place), and to encourage you to try it. It sounds silly. It sounds stupid and Self Help Book-ish, but I swear, it actually works, especially if you think about pony while you play. Anyway, on a personal note, this fandom taught me how to make kindness a lifestyle. Thanks. I hope that, in return, my game will be of some use to you.
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