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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.
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 monuments of the forest: The Ginso Tree, The Forlorn Ruins, and Mount Horu. Because of their lack of light, because of their blindness, instead of producing water, wind, and warmth, they spewed toxic liquids, fatal frost, and deadly lava.
Ori was given hope, though it was a future that required deep commitment from her.
Not only did the sweet creature, Ori, restore the light in these behemoths, but also in the hearts of others, including Gumo. When Gumo lost his race, the gumons, to deadly frost, he became despaired and angry. At first he was an enemy to Ori, trapping her and stealing the key into the Ginso Tree. But when he witnessed her good deeds, hope was revived within him. In the end, even Kuro is inspired by Naru and Ori’s beautiful example of the bond between a mother and child to sacrifice herself for the restoration of the entire Forest of Nibel.
When my parents decided to divorce and I had to move away from my old home, my light and hope disappeared, and I became blind. I didn’t know where my life was going anymore, and I sank into a deep depression. Instead of emanating good, I leaked venom and negativity.
I felt like circumstances were twisting me into something I didn’t want to be, and I let them. Grief, stress, anger, and bitterness are easy to get wrapped up in. I’m pretty sure I hurt some other people because of my focus on my own suffering, just like Gumo and Kuro hurt Ori out of their grief due to lost loved ones.
Ori goes through similar suffering, but she doesn’t let the grief drag her down. She uses the loss of her mother to motivate herself to help others. I try to use my own suffering in the same way now; my experience from my parents’ divorce helps me understand others who are going through similar pain.
It was hope that eventually lead me out of that darkness. Hope: that little light in us that motivates us to smile every day, that makes us want to pursue our dreams. It’s said that we can survive three weeks without food, three days without water, but we can’t survive a moment without hope.
Edith Wharton comments, “There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” When we have light in us, we need to use it to spark a flame in others. Setting good examples, being there for someone, even a mere compliment can restore the light in another person. I can’t tell you how much I am uplifted when someone says they’ve been encouraged by my writing, or when a friend tells me they appreciate me. Sometimes I don’t even notice that I’m feeling down until someone encourages me and I realize how much I needed it.
Yes, it can take courage to inspire others; sometimes we have to be vulnerable, sometimes it’s a long road, sometimes it only takes a sentence. But if I can help one person see hope in the future, it’s worth it, for I know what it feels like to be blind.