No Hate

I always get emotional whenever people talk about others being “raised to hate.” It just strikes a chord within me. Maybe it’s because I’ve innately and steadfastly believed in kindness and empathy. Maybe it’s because I’m super sensitive and want everybody to at least like one another. Maybe it’s because I know what it’s like to be on both sides of hatred and of love, and would instantly choose love – even if hatred is easier.

Whenever I think of the word, “hatred,” I always recall the cycle of hatred in Naruto. Pein, one of the antagonists (although I say that word lightly because of the nature of the series and how it portrays people as morally complex), says the following:

Love breeds sacrifice… which in turn breeds hatred. Then you can know pain.
Just by living, people hurt others without even realizing it. So long as humanity exists, hate will also exist. There is no peace in this cursed world. War is just a crime paid for by the pain of the defeated…

There’s even a Curse Of Hatred that has plagued the Uchiha clan for generations.

In these instances, it looks like duality is at the forefront: you can’t know hatred without love, you can’t experience peace without conflict or violence. Basically, if you’re human, you feel all of these emotions and live all of these experiences. It’s unavoidable. What can be avoidable, though, is how we turn to destruction and despair whenever we feel and experience the negative.

Nelson Fernandez Jr.’s article about ISIS and the cycle of hatred uses Naruto as a narrative framework on conflict and peace-building. He talks about how the cycle can be broken or how we can look at acts of violence through a different perspective.

I really like this article. It calls for critical thinking and understanding, a willingness to cooperate and collaborate, and most importantly, empathy. We need more of it in order to end this cycle, or at least stop ourselves from thinking in that framework.

No hate, all love. ❤

Shipping

We’ve all done it, whether it’s with people we know in real life or with fictional characters. We notice how they act around each other, or how they would act around each other, and we come up with this perfect idea: they should get together. They should go on a date. They should get married. They should have sex. They should love each other, dammit. Such is the train of thought of a shipper.

I suppose the first time I shipped characters together would be Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe from Anne of Green Gables. I was 8 years old. A year later, I was shipping Ron and Hermione. Things pretty much escalated from there – or went downhill, depending on how you view shipping.

I’ve been on both sides; I’ve had conflicting emotions regarding shipping. Yes, it makes a growing series more exciting and creates really thoughtful and engaging discussion about literature and media – if not correctly. If not, then what we have are shipping wars. People can take their ships too far and will only immerse themselves in a story for the prospect of two (or more) characters falling for each other or doing the do. Which doesn’t really make a well-rounded, engaged fan. Ships can make or break a story, depending on what happens to the characters and how you handle whatever happens. More often than not, I’ve been on I guess the winning side.

But what if a ship does ruin a series for you? What if a toxic relationship comes to fruition and makes you worry about the people influenced by the story? What if a character dies in your ship and the other spends the rest of their lives in regret and loneliness? Or worse – what if the other character doesn’t care?

And what does this mean for you? How do you cope with this? How much time do you spend mulling over everything, thinking about any foretelling signs, dealing with your feelings? I’ve been there, and it absolutely sucks. (The ships were from Naruto and HIMYM, if you’re wondering.) It changes your view of the series and its creators. Sure, you still appreciate everything that you’ve learned and felt from the story, but there’s that bitter aftertaste that you just can’t ignore. Perhaps it’ll just be an aftertaste, and will eventually just become part of the experience instead of The One Thing That Ruined Your Favourite.

And hopefully, it will come to pass, you’ll find other things and people in life that give you hope and inspiration and meaning, and you’ll move on. I have.

My Favourite Stories: Project Introduction

I’ve been meaning to do this for a while. As you can probably tell from my posts, I’ve mentioned several fictional stories that have inspired and shaped me to become a better person. With this project, I’m going to take each story and write a post (or two or seven) on my relationship with that story and why it’s one of my favourites.

Here’s a list of what I’m going to write about:

  • Harry Potter
  • Parks and Recreation (I kind of already did this, but there’s so much to add that it won’t be like a double post.)
  • Naruto
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender
  • The Legend of Korra
  • The Hunger Games
  • The Lord of the Rings

I’m going to start with Harry Potter – be on the lookout for that post within the next couple of weeks!

Note: You can also hold me accountable and send me reminders about this project, since, well, I need the push. 🙂

2014 Again

I’m definitely in a better mood and more positive mindset to talk about what was good things happened this year. Here we go!

– I worked my first job out of university (12 months after last exam, 9 months after graduation and after I started actively looking) and learned a lot (and got paid well)
– I’ve volunteered at two organizations I’ve wanted to work for since 2012. And I’ve been promoted twice in one of those organizations!
– I saw We Will Rock You
– I started watching Parks and Recreation and Brooklyn Nine-Nine
– I found out my Style Statement is Graceful Legend
– I found out my Element is writing and helping others
– I submitted some of my work for publication
– I developed a short story
– I read The Alchemist, by Paulo Coehlo, and Yes Please, by Amy Poehler, which I believe are equally great and will make me a better person
– I read more in general
– I developed my career and career goals through research and networking. I also bought a program in November called Zero to Network to help with my career, and it’s been helping a lot so far
– I’ve been to several interviews and getting more confident in selling myself
– I started to practice yoga in November and it’s been so great to find a form of exercise that I actually like and will want to continue with
– I met a lot of wonderful people through work, volunteering, and just going out
– How I Met Your Mother ended – While I may not want to watch the entire series again, I do really value what I have learned from the show. I learned that it was okay to struggle with finding a job and finding love. I learned that there is a reason why it takes years for someone to find the love of their life. I may not know what the reason for my situation is, but the show did help me be more patient and understanding.
– Naruto ended – thank goodness it did! Because I thought that the story was dragging along. It was bittersweet to read the final chapters, though. The manga and the anime motivated me to be more courageous and frankly to exercise more (those ninjas were freakishly strong).
– Legend of Korra ended – the finale wasn’t as epic as the one for Avatar: The Last Airbender, but I did appreciate the show overall. If you’re looking for a show with strong, empowered women of colour, this is it.
– The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies capped the end of the Middle Earth movies by Peter Jackson and company. Another end of an era. I’m so glad that my dad introduced me to these movies; I remember him renting The Fellowship of the Ring from Rogers and me becoming totally engrossed in the story.
– And I watched for the first time: Dead Poets Society, The Godfather, 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Pulp Fiction, Love Actually, and Spirited Away

I’m glad that I took the time and made the head- and heart-space for remembering the good things that have happened to me this year. It goes to show that once we realize just how much the positive outweighs the negative, our lives are richer and more fulfilling.

Thank you, 2014, and here’s to a better 2015!

2014

I just want this year to end. Personal and fandom-related things have made 2014 pretty awful:

– My grandfather died – I have never cried so much in my entire life
– I was unemployed, got a cushy job that was not meant for me, quit the cushy job, became unemployed again and am now wondering what comes next
– How I Met Your Mother ended – the finale kind of killed my romantic optimism
– Naruto ended – bittersweet, since it was a big chunk of my adolescence
– Legend of Korra is going to end soon – an amazing show that was not treated well by Nickelodeon

The first two things are enough to make me want to fast-forward to next year. The fandom stuff didn’t make 2014 truly awful, but since those shows/stories meant a lot to me, I’m sad to see them go.

Hopefully by the end of December I’ll have something more optimistic to say about 2014.

Believe It!

Free-writing again. This time, it’ll feel interrupted since I’m listening to music of Part 1 of Naruto.

Oh, how I’ve loved this show and the manga. I kind of can’t believe how many hours (which have probably amounted into days, weeks, months) of watching the anime, reading the manga, reading fanfiction, looking at fanart, and browsing through random people’s Tumblrs about it. Such a great story.

And it’s best not to get too bogged down in the negatives of the story (ask me about How I Met Your Mother, and I’ll have a different opinion). It’s like with people, at least for me: treat them fairly, with understanding and compassion, and do criticize them. Because when you love something, you’ll do and say what you think is best for them. And you criticize out of love. Because you love the thing or the person so much. Right?

Anyway, I’m feeling nostalgic because the manga is ending in a couple of weeks. It’s run for 15 years, which is wow, amazing. It’s hard to believe, and at first I was feeling indifferent about it, but it has taken up so much of my life, and for good reason. You know I love a good story. And as flawed as Naruto was, I still can’t help but acknowledge how it’s left an impact on my life. For the better, I think. The music, for one, is great for working out and even for studying (I can’t help but remember using it to study for a psychology test once). You end up admiring the intelligence and creativity put into that world and its characters. Especially the main character. Naruto has been a positive force in my life: he’s optimistic, resilient, confident, and compassionate. Definitely in an out-of-this-world kind of way, but it’s nonetheless admirable.

When I started writing this, I was feeling upset that my dad said I needed to be more flexible when it came to the job search. Honestly, I am flexible. Just not in the way he sees it – or in the way his generation or cultural/socioeconomic group sees it. I’ve read before that there are three ways to see work: a job, a career, or a calling. I’m definitely the third. How can I not be? I feel existential despair whenever something doesn’t go the way I planned or wanted in my career path, and I have to love the work that I do. I can’t settle for less on this, or I’d be lying to myself.

It’s definitely hard to go through life like this. I’ve been everywhere this year (which seriously just needs to end) when it came to what I wanted to do next: Master’s in Peace and Conflict Studies, Bachelor of Education, Master of Arts in Social Justice Education, Post-Graduate Certificate in International Development or Project Management or Alternative Dispute Resolution, and of course, anything in Creative Writing. It’s been stressful and unsettling. And it’s mostly because I’ve been confused about what I want and what I should do. My career counsellor told me that I should trust myself in making these kinds of decisions. I have felt confident before in what I wanted to do and what I was meant to do, but now… Do I still believe it?