Walking, Not Running
Walking, Not Running
Growing up, I have read about a lot of people and have admired a plethora of different dignitaries and personalities, but very few of them have truly impressed their presence into my mind. If I have to recount, only three people have truly influenced my way of thinking. Two of them don’t even exist. But they are people nonetheless; people who have
earned my respect and continue to push me into becoming something more than the human I am.
My mother grew up in very onerous circumstances, but she always kept her head high. She always finds something to smile about. Perhaps, it is really a testament to the steel of the fabric of her soul that makes itself known through her inability to get undermined by the reality of life. A steel that has been passed down to me, along with her pride. I remember crying about something once. When my mother found me, she waited for me to stop crying and then reminded me very firmly, albeit gently, that ninety percent of life is always going to be hard and painful, but the remaining ten percent will be full of light and happiness. Only if I choose to find it.
And of course, those words are seared into my heart.
I knew the word perfection before I even learned to read and write. It was simply by watching my mother. It was only through my mother that I learnt the importance of loving what you do, no matter the type of work. You see, when my mother works, she puts her heart into what she does. I have seen my mother tired from working, but never weary because of it. No one I know, loves working and getting challenged by difficult tasks as much as her.
Like I said, I’ve read many books about many people. But it was my mother, who taught me to really live. And these are really some few humble words I can type to really express my thoughts about her.
If I have to be brutally honest, Vincent van Gogh is possibly the most famous ideal of the tortured artist. The Half-mad genius. Someone finds a dream, gets admonished by society into following the path of the obvious, but finds their soul dying. So they throw themselves out of the society and run after that fading dream, that ultimately damns them to a life of inspiration and depression. Because no one really understands them. Because every common one of them laugh at them. A pain that’s numbed by alcohol and purchased company.
And by the end, often the brilliant tortured artist dies choking in their own bile and emptiness, surrounded by the cold brilliance of their creations, which would be treasured generations after a lifetime of pain and yearning.
It’s so easy to romanticize this. It’s so easy to feel useless pity and admiration for the storms begotten in the mind of the tortured artist. Until you know what it is to truly have them.
As someone who’s not heeding the true hunger of their soul, van Gogh serves simultaneously as the pinnacle of perfection to which I aspire to, as well as the nightmarish abys to which I’m afraid to be condemned to. And it has opened a whole new window to my nature. A side, which is weak and afraid of the night, which craves the easy warmth of false love, a side which yearns to be accepted, despite being aware of being different, out of place, unique.
Vincent is the after shade of self-loathing thoughts and emotions in my heart, the person that drives me to try to be braver, to love my cowardly side, to withstand the crashing waves of vulnerability that always threaten to drown me. Even if I am not enough right now, not fully myself, I have started to accept the way I am. Even if it’s lame, childish and immature. After all, you cannot grow a plant by ignoring it. You have to water it and give it plenty of sunlight.
Faye Valentine. The woman lost in time. The open wound of Cowboy Bebop. The smirking bounty hunter, who gambles and smokes all that silly human pain away. The woman with the “bad attitude”, as quote by Spike Spiegel. Another woman with a gun, among space cowboys and criminals.
It’s disheartening to see how many people undermine anime. Their only excuse is that it is animation, hence only children can watch it. Animated gold, like Cowboy Bebop, are often left unwatched, in spite of their very real portrayals of life and human beings. As well as the countless lessons that imprint upon lost, disillusioned minds.
Faye is not your sweet innocent girl. Sporting a deceptive, easy smile, she often uses her beauty to her benefit, preferring to stay unattached. Lazy, arrogant, cynical, distrustful and abrasive. And, despite her worst intentions, she always ends up caring about the people around her.
After being injured in a space exploration accident when she was twenty, Faye was cryogenically frozen for fifty-four years. After she woke, her memory of herself was all but a blank canvas. Confused and afraid, she fell into the arms of the first person who gave her warmth and solace, which ended in betrayal. And Faye awoke, to a brand new world of space travel and technology as well as to a bitter, cunning new version of her.
Much of Faye’s journey is about finding herself again. To seek her past, which is only momentarily preserved in fleeting glimpses of memory as well as a sense of ever pervading loss. Loss of herself. But, when confronted with her past, Faye discovers that it really doesn’t mean anything anymore. The Faye, fifty-four years ago, was already gone.
Which really begs these questions. How much of us is truly us, and not what is expedient? Is youth nothing but a series of well-intentioned mistakes and clumsy steps towards fulfillment and happiness in a hopelessly meaningless existence? And if it is that, why do so many people have such less patience with the young?
Faye is all of us at our worst. The ones who cry over simple differences, the ones getting annoyed at the clever comeback they didn’t think of in an argument, the ones feeling the pressure of the shadow cast a brilliant sibling or parent, the ones constantly in fear of judgement, the ones failing again and again, even though they have what it needs to be brilliant.
And Faye is also us, learning to trust the right people, learning to be more assertive, learning to be brave, learning to do the right things, to stop making stupid mistakes, to love again, to live again.
The past will always have its shadow over our lives. Seeking the past is alright, but not dwelling in it. Much of life can pass dwelling on what was done, ignoring what has to be done, leaving much undone. After all, as Pi Patel said, all of life is an act of letting go.
And I am only just learning to embrace my past, as much as it discomfits me, and walk right into the blazing light of the present. All of this I can credit to one person. Faye Valentine. My beautiful, wandering space cowgirl.
But of course, I’m only in my early twenties. Much of my life is unlived. So many people unmet. So many experiences not experienced. So many memories unmade. I can even not exist tomorrow, but that’s alright. I’m just glad to be alive. All I want to do is wake up tomorrow to a new life. And a new way of thinking.