Light like Ori’s...

When I first came across the video game Ori and the Blind Forest, I wondered, “Why did the creators call it ‘The Blind Forest’? Why ‘blind’?” Thus I began my journey as a young forest sprite named Ori. When Ori was born, a terrible storm separated her from her father, the Spirit Tree. The benign beast Naru found and raised her to be intelligent and kind. After Ori had grown to a young adult, the Spirit Tree called back his child. However, when she arrived, Kuro, a gigantic she-owl, attacked the Spirit Tree and stole his lighted core, blinding the Forest of Nibel. As the ecosystem decayed, so did Naru and Ori’s food supply until eventually there was nothing left to eat. In one last act of sacrifice, Naru gave her adopted daughter the last peach she could find, then died of starvation. Weak from hunger, Ori traveled through the mangled and twisted forest. Eventually, she too, died of hunger. It would be awful if the story ended there. Since the game was only beginning, I knew there would be more. But I’m reminded of how, sometimes, caught in a hopeless place, I feel like there will be nothing more. Hard times have blinded me and left me hollow. I have lost my light many times, my little spark, the piece of me that keeps me hopeful. “This is it!” I’ve cried. “There’s nothing left. I’m done.” But I wasn’t actually done. There was light up ahead; I just couldn’t see it. I’m pretty sure I hurt some other people because of my focus on my own suffering. In Ori’s case, the Spirit Tree used its meager strength to grant her new life, and tasked her with restoring the light in the three great...

A Level Up in Perseverance Jul18

A Level Up in Perseverance...

Perseverance is difficult enough when it’s short term. Running a five-kilometer race, surviving an illness, applying for jobs until you finally get hired… these things take determination. But what about persevering over days, months, and years? Kirito, Asuna, and the other survivors of Sword Art Online know exactly what this feels like, having to persevere when they were trapped inside a virtual reality game for almost three years. Imprisoned by the creator of the VRMMORPG, many of the other players who logging in that fateful day couldn’t handle life away from their families, their friends, and the outside world. They had no hope the game’s 100 levels would be cleared and they would be able to return. Thousands jumped off virtual cliffs in despair, killing their bodies in the real world. Many more accepted that they would never leave the game and it became their new reality. Others let their entrapment taint their hearts and turned to destroying others to fill the void. A tough time we persevere through will level us up for trials to come. But not Kirito. Kirito was determined to return home. Though he began this herculean journey in pursuit of beating a game worthy of his skill, he grew to know other players who were determined to help each other escape the game, and he joined them in their goal. Kirito persevered through impossible battles, through losing his friends, through times of discouragement, through betrayal by his guild members, and even through near death. At one point he even considered just settling down in the game and living a life with Asuna, accepting that he’d never leave, but they both knew they had to go on. The task was daunting. Clearing 30 of the 100 levels took SAO players...

You Are, and Always Will Be, My Friend Jun27

You Are, and Always Will Be, My Friend...

One of the many reasons I love Star Trek is that the series highlights friendships. The romances come and go, but the friendships, when the right effort is put in, endure. It reminds me of my own experience. I only have a handful of friends who have withstood the test of time, and they mean the world to me. In Star Trek: Into Darkness, many of the characters display key factors to working, lasting friendships. This diverse crew struggles through much conflict, whether it stems from outside circumstances or their own biases and emotions. But when push comes to shove, the crew of the Enterprise are steadfast and enduring. I especially appreciate the attributes of trust, honesty, forgiveness, acceptance, and sacrifice they exhibit. Sulu and Trust For the Enterprise to run smoothly, the crew has to put their faith in each other, especially in cases such as letting a crewmember command as acting captain. When Kirk goes with Spock onto a Klingon-space planet, he leaves Sulu in charge to manage the ship. Though McCoy is nervous about this situation, Kirk has enough trust and confidence in Sulu that he can get the job done, which he does. Giving control over to someone else and trusting them to get the job done can be challenging, especially if you are one of those people who likes to do everything yourself. Trusting someone else when the stakes are high is the mark of true friendship. It is difficult to be honest, especially when honesty could mean jeopardizing a job or a relationship. McCoy and Honesty It is difficult to be honest, especially when honesty could mean jeopardizing something important to you, like a job or a relationship. McCoy is candid with Kirk despite the possible repercussions. He plays the devil’s advocate to many of...

Becoming Stone May25

Becoming Stone

Sometimes I wish I didn’t feel emotions at all. Sure, the good ones are great; who doesn’t want to feel joy, hope, satisfaction, or delight? But the bad ones terrify me. Grief, fear, regret, loneliness… no, thank you. In the Song of the Sea, Ben begins his life as a happy child with a loving father, Conor, and a gentle mother, Bronach, who loves to teach her son stories and songs. One of her many fantastical tales is about the Owl Witch Macha. Long ago, Macha’s son endured a great tragedy, plunging him into despair. Because Macha couldn’t bear to see the pain in her son, she turned him into stone. However, she didn’t stop there. On Halloween night, she sent out her owls to cleanse faeries and humans of their emotions. Soon after telling her son this story, Bronach dies while giving birth to Ben’s younger sister, Saoirse. Years later, Ben has grown bitter and jealous of Saoirse. Negative emotions surround him—from his own jealousy and terror of the sea that surrounds their lighthouse home, to a grieving father, to a cynical granny. I imagine there were many times he wished he could be turned to stone like the faeries in his mother’s story. It is when Granny takes Ben and Saoirse to the city that he learns his sister is a selkie and that she has the ability to play a shell that releases faeries from stone prisons. His mother’s story is true. After Macha captures Saoirse and Ben, he confronts her. The Owl Witch feels that she needs to rid the world of “nasty emotions” because “nobody needs them,” that they make everyone “feel awful.” So deep are her ideals, she even draws the good and bad emotions out of herself...

The Heart of a Girl on Fire Apr25

The Heart of a Girl on Fire...

Katniss Everdeen, the Girl on Fire, is a symbol in her dystopian world of Panem. In the story, she touches the hearts of the districts, yet I’ve often heard people who’ve seen the movies describe her as calloused, mean, and even heartless. How can someone with those descriptors be a positive emblem of hope for a fictional nation and millions of viewers across our globe? I believe that despite Katniss’s harsh exterior cultivated by her background, she has a compassionate heart that surpasses even Peeta Mellark’s. Self-Sacrifice in The Hunger Games Katniss volunteers to take the place of her younger sister, Prim, in the Hunger Games. This is the catalyst of the entire story, but she furthers this sacrificial nature in her protection of Rue during the Games. Katniss doesn’t even know Rue well, but the District 11 girl’s innocence and similarities to Prim spur Katniss to fight for her. This movie brings out Katniss’s sacrificial nature the most. The scene where she decorates Rue with wildflowers after her death is her way of showing her love for a girl she barely knew and rebelling against the Capitol. Compassion in Catching Fire When the Peacekeepers raid District 12, Katniss notices the elderly Greasy Sae is injured. Katniss takes the old woman aside and gently uses a cold cloth to help her eye. During tribute training in the Capitol, Haymitch and Peeta urge Katniss to ally herself with the bigger, stronger victors. Who does Katniss choose? The rejects and the elderly. She connects with these “lesser” individuals—namely, Mags, Beetee, and Wiress. She sees past their seemingly weak exteriors and recognizes their skills. More importantly, she values them as human beings. Amidst the 75th Hunger Games, Wiress is in shock after enduring a trap that coated...