Catharsis is freedom. It is when we feel as if our inhibitions are out of the window in that specific moment, at that specific place, at that specific time. We feel as if the world is for us to devour and consume, and the universe shall bow down to us.
It is serenity. It is when we feel like nothing can harm us, and we are not going to catch on fire today, in the next couple hours, and the foreseeable future. It is when we smile in our heads, saying that “everything is okay today.”
Even so, it’s also lonely. We experience it at times as the bottomless and comforting pit that we know is fleeting, and we can never be the same after that moment. We experience it alone, and others cannot fathom the sheer emotions that small shard of our life brings. It is something that only our minds can experience, something so unique that we cannot offer it to anyone.
Why am I writing this? Because tonight, I feel somber. This digital sphere ate me alive, because literature doesn’t always comfort us. I just finished watching All About Lily Chou-Chou by Shunji Iwai, who was also the creator of the art house film-turned-shitty anime movie Fireworks: Should We See It From The Side Or Below? This was my first experience of his works, and I… feel life.
I feel life.
Life sucks. Life is shit. Especially as a teenager, of course life sucks. You are at the transition phase of being a young child to being an adult. People around you say “it goes downhill from here” because fuck whatever the hell I hear from my parents spouting economic bullshit and everyone around me saying that I have to move on and speed up growing up. If not that, as a sheltered child you see how fucked up life is outside your bubble. You hear about how shitty other people’s lives are, like how your best friend’s interest for this guy has been taken advantage of, or how one of your friends isn’t with you anymore and you remember them even when the world doesn’t seem to care anymore. You experience being heartbroken, being used, being tired of the world around you. You see people come and go, you see people fuck around and get fucked around with, and you see how unfair life is down the line.
What do you do? You scream. You cry. You throw away everything, hoping you can piece together your mother’s vase later. You write a couple of verses or two, a couple of verses or more, you write until your hands bleed worse than your heart does for the world. You take advantage of other people because you’re tired of being fucked over, you stay silent because you feel pushed around a corner, you pretend that everything’s okay even if you’re still screaming a shitton of decibels without any sign of tiredness.
In some cases, you listen to music.
TOMOSUKE, Etsuko Yakushimaru, Miho Tsujibayashi, Deresute, otoge music, shoegaze, bossa nova, math rock saved my life. When I’m tired of crying, they would cry for me. My anger, my spite, my melancholy manifested in them when I needed it the most. They push my emotions, and I feel like someone hears me. Suddenly, I am the May Queen. Nature breathes with me, and life finally feels at ease. And forever, I would always be grateful that music saved me.
It didn’t just save me, too. They may not say it, but I know and God knows that my significant other has also been healed by the music they listen to. They listen to what I listen as well, plus some other genres and sounds that I haven’t asked about yet. If there was one thing we both know and understand, it’s how music has been the home for our miserable souls no matter how much time has passed. I went through it, they went through it, and other people went through it. It’s the way people like us express ourselves, a way that humans could get by in life. Music has been our home, and it will be a home to the weary forever.
Weary. I think that’s what humans are. I can’t help but think of the people whose lives have been ruined by the people around them, like how badly you want to comfort your Facebook mutual who just saw their perpetrator in the crowd. Or to hear that your neighbor chose to deny that they accidentally killed your cat and you cannot bring them to the vet because you’re struggling financially right now. People are sick, and it leaves the kind souls weary. We experience things that fuck us up, like how Yuichi has been fucked up by Shuusuke, who has also been fucked up by his society. It’s the same as my partner becoming cynical because being nice fucked them over. Life is cruel. Life is awful, depressing, unfair, sickening. Be nice, and you get mocked. Be kind, and you’ll get spat on 10 times over. Be weak, you’ll be trampled on. Be a principled person, you’ll get slapped in the face by corrupted people. Be unlucky, and you’ll be the next dead body tomorrow. Our existence was rigged, our existence is rigged, and our existence will be rigged. Sometimes, we feel like we need to question why we were born in the first place.
But if there’s any consolation, it’s possible to win at life. We just have to keep pushing towards living. I always remember Camus saying that we should imagine Sisyphus happy to find meaning in suffering. Life isn’t for the weak-willed. It’s a fact that we have to accept, and it’s a mindset that we need to drill in our brains. We start out weak, shy, and meek, but we have to develop a hard shell and tell ourselves that we will live to see another day. We can’t lose to the people who make us feel like we’re losers, and we can’t let ourselves be devoured by our demons. Life is beautifully chaotic and serene, and dying is an option we could possibly regret in life. We aren’t alone in experiencing this, even if our catharsis differs from one person to another. But we are alive right now even if life is awful, and the way we express ourselves is what sets us free from our misery — at least, temporarily.
I felt life in Iwai-san’s work. It’s unnerving at times and especially depressing, but it’s real for some people that I know and most that I don’t know. The lush backdrop and the comforting sounds of Lily Chou-Chou and Claude Debussy’s music is contrasted with a bleak reality I don’t want anyone to experience. Life is like that. It confuses us, it taints us, it makes us depressed, it makes us look at our surroundings in different ways as time passes. Even so, it’s beautiful in the ways that the skies are blue, the grass is green, and comfort exists in the souls that choose and want to comfort you. Life is beautiful because we’re alive, despite the fact that we’re alive. We all have our demons and our traumas — things that we regret, things that we wouldn’t be able to get back. We have our sufferings and experiences that fill us with the feeling of malaise. Even so, we find solace in the fact that someone made music because they feel it all too well. We find comfort in the ways that we scream or enjoy the endless green fields. We find temporal happiness in the fact that someone is with us while we’re munching on a whole meal using money that’s not ours. We feel alive every time we listen to Lily Chou-Chou. And that’s all I can say, that’s all I could only say.
Life can be found in the bleakest parts of it. We don’t know if it gets better, if it will even get better. But as long as we keep being strong for ourselves — as long as we realize that we are made to scream, as long as we keep waking up every morning no matter how tired we are, as long as we realize and drive home the fact that we were never alone even if life slaps us in the face that we look like it — we will be beautiful and alive.