Short Movies about Inner DiscoveryThis is the article for DTown, a local Doylestown magazine. (As the article stands now. Who knows what they will do to it by the time it's published.)
In 1983, a drunk driver hit Joel Metzger’s car just a few blocks from his home. Metzger was going 35 miles-per-hour, the other driver 85, when the two cars collided head-on.
The crash took the life of the driver and passenger in the other car, and changed Metzger’s forever. At one time he was the foreman of a high-tech manufacturing shop who constructed and operated puppets in his spare time. In the afternoon he mailed his resume to Jim Henson Muppets with hopes of becoming a puppeteer full-time. But that night suddenly he was in the intensive care unit of a hospital. He spent nine more months in hospitals: two in a coma and seven in rehabilitation.
“A severe head trauma doesn’t end your life, but changes everything. You can lose many abilities. Your personality may change totally. I had to relearn everything,” he explains. But Metzger did more than just become reacquainted with what he knew before. He became very familiar with the part of himself that never changes, and now dedicates his life to sharing what he’s found.
WISDOM FROM KNOWLEDGE
A Levittown native, Metzger was living in Florida at the time of his accident. He was brought back to the Philadelphia area while still in a coma and lived at Bryn Mawr Rehabilitation Hospital. His family supported him on the road to recovery after his discharge from the hospital. However, his wife left their marriage, which to him was a second catastrophe.
Now Metzger lives in Doylestown, where is a well-known figure to many in the borough. He enjoys his daily walks, although the major head trauma he suffered 30 years ago still affects his gate and slurs his speech.
But aside from family and friends, Metzger says something else helped him heal. Something he says lives in all of us. Something he calls the “basic current of life.”
“Knowledge” is a technique of self-awareness that is taught by the well-known Prem Rawat. Born in India in 1957, Rawat has been teaching the practice for decades and spends most of his time travelling and helping people learn its value. Rawat speaks to the thousands who come to hear, and reminds them about what they already have. "What you seek," Rawat says, "is inside."
Metzger had been regularly practicing these techniques since the early 1970s. After the accident, he found this practice to be more helpful than ever. After all, this was not something he had to relearn. The flow of life was inside himself the whole time.
THE WORLD INSIDE
Years after rehabilitation, Metzger became proficient in the skill of 3-dimensional digital modeling, which he uses to display on computer the look of buildings and entertainment productions. He combined that skill with his understandings of Knowledge and came up with a style for producing animated videos. He has spent three years creating a series of videos called “Treasure Inside,” which now includes 16 short animated films, 2 ½ to 5 minutes long.
"They are all simple metaphors, examining one fundamental marvel: life itself. I’m trying to tell people about the rewards of this type of awareness. However, they're only for people who are interested. I am not trying to sell it. I am just putting it out there,” Metzger explains.
His digital series of movies is gaining both local and world-wide attention. Twice his videos were awarded Best Animation by an Emerging Filmmaker at the BucksFever FilmFest, both 2009 and 2011.
Last year's winner was “Tsunami Thoughts.” The 5-minute film begins with Metzger – always portrayed as a cartoon caricature of himself – speaking about the horrors of the tsunami that rolled over Japan. The animation is simple, but effective. Like Metzger’s speech, still affected by his accident, the movements of his character seem awkward and jumpy at first. But, they soon seem fluid and natural, moving with simple facial expressions and hand gestures to punctuate his commentary.
Against simple backgrounds that ebb and flow with digitally-rendered pans and zooms, Metzger notes that “Every painting has another side. Same picture, but a different way of seeing it.” He invites people into his “own personal movie theater,” and explains how that technique of self-awareness helped him deal with tragedy. He calls what he’s found, the sense of peace and understanding, his “source.”
“Yes, hell on earth can happen, but that source is here whenever I turn to it,” he concludes.
"My Other Home" received the first award for Best Animation, in 2009. The movie uses the metaphor of a noisy party with quiet background music. That quiet music is like the beautiful clarity of life itself, with us since birth, referring to Prem Rawat's technique of feeling peace inside.
So those are my two homes.
A beautiful house in this wonderful town,
That anybody can visit.
And there's also my other home.
It's my foundation,
I visit that home inside of myself.
“The Story of Home” is Metzger's most recent 5-minute film. "I consider it to be my favorite movie," says Metzger, "because it clearly sums up my message." It looks at large issues like global warming and starvation that affect this planet and its 7 billion people and reminds us that the solutions possibly lie within every one.
“This is how to look at 7 billion,” Metzger says in the film. “The answer lies in every one -- feeling inside life itself, instead of wanting more and more and more.” He talks about the beauty of turning to that peaceful constant stream, and states: “feeling life means cherishing life ... Feeling the breeze of life's magic; cherishing every little moment."
THE WORLD OUTSIDE
The videos have also been broadcast on MiND: Media Independence TV that operates on channel 35 in the Philadelphia-South Jersey region. Metzger has been invited to submit a compilation of his movies to WHYY-TV (Channel 12) and is hoping a 30-minute program could air that combines some of the movies with an interview. He also hopes to give a presentation at local venues that examines the films and the inspiration behind them.
Jud Sharp, a local artist who has known Metzger for 35 years, helped on the project and also practices the techniques of self-awareness. While Metzger does most of the illustrations, he reached out to Sharp when he wanted more artistry. “This practice has helped me the same way it has helped Joel,” Sharp explains. “The peaceful meditation puts life in perspective.”
While Metzger is adamant about not wanting to be a salesman for the practice that aims to help people to find peace within, he has embraced it himself and he is creating these videos to help tell people about this inner resource.
“It really is simple and no big deal,” Metzger explains. “It is very beautiful to feel the flow of life inside. Whenever I reach to this feeling, I find the peace that's already there. I do not acquire it. This is not my accomplishment. It is not mine at all. It is part of everybody.”
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