“You are our history. We are perhaps your future. I want to learn, not ignore. It is the reason I came. We must know each other. We are not primitive men. Our morality is no longer tribal, it cannot be. Such ignorance is a wrong, from which wrong will arise. So I come to learn.” – The Dispossessed, p. 75 Welcome to the final part in the series exploring one of my favourite novels: Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Dispossessed. You can read the previous entries here: Part 1 – Crossing the Wall: The Dispossessed Part 2 – Urras and Hope Betrayed Part 3 – Anarres the Promise Kept In this last piece, I’ll touch on the theme of reconciliation that runs through the novel and look at one of its key recurring image: the wall. Finally, I’ll explore how the idea of the promise, as expressed by Le Guin’s ideas and embodied by the protagonist Shevek’s actions, has implications for my own personal journey in forging a meaningful and fulfilling life.
“Making happiness the focal point of your life trivializes it, because in order to regard anything as truly important, you also have to regard its loss as truly meaningful. Opening yourself up to moments of deep meaning simultaneously means that you have to open yourself up to the possibility of deep hurt and sorrow. You do that anytime, for example, you make a relationship profound, you put your emotions on the line and that has to be real, or else the relationship can’t be real. To hope that sort of risk could be obliterated by the indulgence in a simplistic form of happiness is to shrink in cowardice from the demands real human existence places on people.” -Jordan B. Peterson, CBC Idea’s “Say No to Happiness” P.S. There’s a reason for these quotes – stay tuned!
I came across Studio Ghibli’s Only Yesterday (titled Omohide Poro Poro in Japan) at a time of transition in my life. Having just having graduated from school and secured a job in my field, I had hoped that the path forward was secure, certain. The hours were nice and the pay was good, but as time went on I felt a growing dissatisfaction I could not dismiss but could not articulate. Catching the film by chance on television one late night, I connected with the protagonist’s own yearning for something more in life. This resonance spanned the gulf between gender, culture, and life experience; her fictional journey of self-discovery inspired me to reflect honestly on my own life. How does the past shape my present identity? Am I satisfied with the course of my life? Am I courageous enough to pursue what makes me genuinely happy? After seeing the film again this year, I believe Only Yesterday is one of the finest animated films ever made. Quiet, intimate, and poignant, Isao Takahata’s masterpiece contains elements Studio Ghibli …
The Man Who Planted Trees is one of my wife’s favourite stories. I was fortunate enough to see the Oscar-winning animated short film with her last year at the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival; I was immediately swept away by the beauty of both movie and message. Although it is a work of fiction, The Man Who Planted Trees is a testament to one man’s ability to bring about hope and happiness for himself and to the world around him.