This is a post inspired by Joseph Jin who is a reader of my blog and occasionally leaves comments. The below is a part of his comment on my blog post “Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind”, which was written back in June this year.
“…..Also, your comment about Nausicaa giving her life without calculation made me think: Calculation is typical of a mind which is afraid to embrace death and sacrifice; a calculating mind is practically equal to the mortal state of being, since anyone conscious of mortality will fear death. Nausicaa did not calculate this way, and this is what I think brought her across into the state of immortality. Not Nausicaa’s life, but life itself is what Nausicaa embodies. Always dying, always immortal. Ikiru. So Miyazaki, so Japanese. There’s no mistaking this film’s continued influence and popularity”
Ever since I’ve read his comment, I wanted to write a post about Miyazaki’s other movie “Princess Mononoke” but I spent long time just thinking about it. Now that the year is almost over, and I see many new beginnings coming my way in 2010, I wanted to at least attempt to put what I think of this movie into words. “Princess Mononoke” is a movie Miyazaki made in 1997 which was hugely successful in Japan as well as in the U.S. I believe I had watched it when it came out in Japan. A few years later when I met my future husband, I found out that he also owned the DVD, as apparently he liked it too. We got married and moved to San Diego and a few years have passed. One night, my husband and I were watching the movie again, late at night, lying in sofa bed in the living room. I had been experiencing emotional turmoil at that time, because we had found out that I was pregnant with our first baby, but soon we learned that the baby would not live – I had a miscarriage. It was still very early in my pregnancy, maybe 6 or 7 weeks. We never heard the baby’s heart beat, not once – it was not a viable embryo to begin with. Regardless, I had never cried that much for that many days in a row before that – I was devastated and felt helpless that there was absolutely nothing I could do to stop it from dying – or revive what has already been lost. All I could do was just to wait and let it take its course. (When we found out that I miscarried, I could have done this procedure called “D & C” to take care of it surgically, since it was no longer alive, but my doctor suggested to let it pass naturally as it would be better for my body.) That particular night in April, I was experiencing pain as I had to just wait for that to happen – and we decided to watch that movie to get our minds off from it.
I really got sucked into the story even though I had seen it a few times prior to that. Halfway into the movie, (Note: spoiler in this paragraph) the “Forest Spirit” called “Shishigami” got shot by Lady Eboshi by a gun – Lady Eboshi is a leader of iron town where she recruited lepers and former prostitutes and retrained them into gunmakers. Eboshi decided to assault this Forest Spirit so humans would have control over nature. The Forest Spirit turned into “mindless god of death” that begins covering the land in a lethal black ooze that kills everything it touches. Iron town people were trying to escape by crossing a lake, when one of the guys looked back at the iron town and shouted “We’re done for! Once the forge burns, that’s it. That’ll be the end of it!” as he saw the black lethal ooze swallowing their iron town they worked so hard to build, but his wife shouted back at him “We are still alive. We’ll manage somehow!” This line really hit home for me at that time. As much as I was sad, in pain and feeling helpless, it occurred to me that it was not the end of the world. The movie ended with a hopeful tone as well – the Forest Spirit took back his head which was shot off, and after everything was burned and lost, the forest and mountain started to turn green again, implying the new beginnings.
After the movie, we ended up going to the hospital very early in the morning; the remains of the embryo finally came out and it was all over. That whole experience was really sad and painful and it took me a while for me to recover physically and emotionally afterwards, but it also brought me a tremendous gift. I now know what a miracle it is that a baby is born without any complications, and what a miracle it is that we are all alive – and continue to live every single day. We just forget what a gift it is, either because there are so many of us living on this planet, or there seems to be endless supply of days we can live, or whatever reasons – we just take it for granted that there will be tomorrow. But anyone who has experienced losing someone close to you very suddenly (or very slowly for that matter) would know that it is an illusion. We are getting closer to death one day at a time. I wrote about this recently, but I’ll say it again; this kind of experience helps us put things into perspective. Hopefully, once one has recovered from the emotional pain, one would feel gratitude with the realization of how wonderful it is that we have this gift of life. What do you want to create for yourself, your family and for your world, with this gift of life and limited time you are given? Every time I watch “Princess Mononoke”, it brings back the memory of that April night, and how encouraged I felt after watching that particular scene in the movie.