the real world
From a review of The Boy and the Heron, which I saw with C and N last week:
Without spoiling, Mahito is given a chance to rule a fantasy world, but he chooses the pain of the real one. That's the lesson of adulthood, the awareness that we can't live in lands of made-up characters and fantasy versions of those we've lost. We are strong enough to make it in the real one. After gifting us with so many visions, Hayao Miyazaki isn't telling us to live in those animated worlds- he's telling us to live in our own. And we can still visit his whenever we need a reminder of how to live.
The real world. In the real world I got a roomba and it took me three weeks to unbox it. In the real world I’m scared that I’ll fuck everything up. In the real world I don’t like beginnings because I’m too anxious—I like the moment when the rollercoaster starts to descend, when the bottom falls out. In the real world he told me that he would love me forever but still stopped talking to me when I let him down. In the real world I miss J all the time. In the real world I always have to pee one extra time before bed because I’m obsessive compulsive. In the real world I knew how you felt immediately but couldn’t say it because you’re like a lawyer, you want to chase everything to its logical end. In the real world I agree with Phyllis Rose: power still resides in marriage and gossip is the beginning of moral inquiry. In the real world my dog lies on his back, belly exposed, on the wood floor, and I bend down to kiss the inside of his ear, I say, “You’re the one I love!” In the real world I need to sign up for Californian healthcare insurance. In the real world I want to hug you every day until I die.
When I first discovered what Sasha calls Deep Okayness via psychedelics, I was so relieved. Everything is going to be okay! Everything is going to be okay, no matter what. I had never felt like that before for one moment. My whole life I had been propelled by a gnawing terror, the sense the ground was always crumbling beneath my feet. It was a complete revelation. But then I realized I still had to answer the question of how I was to live.
I think many people who pursue mindfulness confront this at some part of their journey: the actual work of living that needs to be done. Where am I going to live? Who am I going to love? What am I going to work on?
I’ve been trying to answer those questions. It’s been difficult, sitting with the weight of my own life, the power I have over my choices. If I don’t like where I am, I can just move.
It’s that simple, which doesn’t mean it isn’t hard. I’ve concluded that all the best revelations are boring. All the magic is in the work.
The moral of the story is not that I changed you, though I changed you. The moral of the story is that you changed me in ways that I didn’t know I needed to be changed. My therapist said the situation is very complex. And I’ve spurned complexity before, I’ve run away from it. But not now. I think in this moment I’m okay with things being very complicated. That’s the real world: always fluid, frightening. We surrender to it before we’re able to navigate it.
You don’t know the limits of how present you can be. You don’t know the limits of how alive you can get. When I watch a Miyazaki film I can’t help but think about his attunement to the world, the presence it requires to transmute the real world into a fantastical one. That’s the interesting contradiction of writers and artists, I suppose: alienation is a necessity, but so is participation. The point of getting better is to be more in the world.