The Light That Binds Us

January 12th, 2022


I did not expect to enjoy “Spiderman: No Way Home” that much.

For one thing, I already knew the spoilers. I knew that threes generations of Spiderman would show up, I knew how everyone would forget Tom Holland in the end. And how aunt May would die, which is a shame, because I like Marissa Tomei a lot. I even knew that she would have to give that “with great power comes great responsibility” speech. Yet that scene still broke me.

It really is a magical thing to watch really good actors shine on screen. I know that Tom Holland in real life said some dumb stuff and he may not be the brightest person out there considering he never graduated from high school (not that the ability to graduate from schools should be a reliable indicator of intelligence of any kind). But he does know how to act. At least in that scene, when I see his eyes sparkle with tears, I was witnessing grief and heartbreak in real time. Since I have been on set before, knowing how he probably did that through multiple takes, with annoying sound person booming over his head, gazillion lights and special effects elements happening in the background, he probably would have to went through the same grief over and over again to make it believable. Sure, he got paid a lot of money to do it. Sure, he probably had an acting coach. Sure, he probably used his imagination because he never personally knew grief. Nothing changes the fact that it was a moving scene, and I was really touched as a audience member sitting in the dark.

My fellow filmmaker friend Elenor told me that she thinks the actual film and the filmmaking process should be completely separated, like the church and the state, and the audience should have the final judgement. The audience only wants to be dazzled. They are not interested in how the magic is made, unless you are a filmmaker yourself, trying to break down the act in the hope that you can create your own magic sometimes in the future. Really good filmmakers, Elenor argues, know how to see the film through the eyes of the audience.

In that sense, this film is a blatant fan service that is constantly aware of what the fans want and delivers their wishes and desires with a fierce confidence. Does it mean they are good filmmakers? If the minimum requirement for a film to be called art is for people to feel something, then how easily manipulated are our feelings? For me, with the right sad music, and the genuine performance of an actor, I am ready to cry. That’s easy because I am already a sentimental person prone to melancholy. Are films just things people use to make them feel something instead of their dull lives?

It is clear that as I am writing these words, that I am perhaps at this moment in my life, depressed again. No longer inside the bubble of finishing my school work, I need to face the reality of finding a job and facing the consequences of my choices. It never occurred to me that I am in grief. I am grieving over the time I lost due to fear and inaction.

The worst punishment is the understanding that you failed to properly use those good things which were given to you. Do not expect a big punishment. There can be no harder punishment than this remorse.

— Leo Tolstoy

Sometimes grief and remorse feel so similar that it’s hard to tell which is which. I could have done something. I could have been braver and fought harder.

Do not speak of the past. Live in the light of love, and all things will be given to you.

– Persian Wisdom

What I saw in the eyes of these talented actors on screen is life itself, and a light that binds us. A light that elevates me to a much higher level. A light that makes all the sufferings mean something. And it’s already inside me. All I need to do it to let it shine.

There is only one sin: disobedience to the inner law of our own nature. This disobedience is the fault of those who teach us, as children, to control God (our desires) instead of giving Him room to grow. The whole problem is to find out which is God and which is the Devil. And the one sure guide is that God appears always unreasonable, while the Devil appears always to be noble and right. God appears unreasonable because He has been put in prison and driven wild. The Devil is conscious control, and is, therefore, reasonable and sane.

— Lane-Layard

This is the quote that haunts me. I believe that especially as an artistic person, your so-called intellect will be your biggest enemy. Because resistance is a force so powerful and so resilient that it will attach itself to any form of intellectualisation to make you stop pursuing art. Because to be creative is to face the unknown and possible rejection. And there is nothing resistance hates more than the unknown and rejections. So it will come up with all kinds of reasons and rational objections to stop you from creating art.

Right now, my excuses are:

  • I need to get a day job that could give me a permanent resident card in 2 years
  • I cannot create art unless I know for sure that I could stay here for as long as I need without being sent home
  • My life is so boring. How could I create art when I haven’t lived yet?
  • I am unlovable. You create art because you want to feel love and feel what you couldn’t had when you were a child. Isn’t that pathetic? No matter how much art you create it would never change the fact that you are alone and sad in real life and no one wants you
  • I am getting too old. I have missed my chance to be brave

What a pile of horseshit. To which I can only say, fuck you, and fuck your bullshit.

I will not be bullied. I have a voice. And I do not want to waste this gift that was given to me, that never really belonged to me in the first place. And the whole point of having gifts is that you get to pay the kindness forward and not let it get stuck in your hands.

And now my beauties, something with poison in it I think, with poison in it, but attractive to the eye and soothing to the smell . . . poppies, poppies, poppies will put them to sleep.

— The Wicked Witch of the West, The Wizard of Oz (movie, released 1939)

Now it is well known that when there are many of these flowers together their odor is so powerful that anyone who breathes it falls asleep, and if the sleeper is not carried away from the scent of the flowers, he sleeps on and on forever. But Dorothy did not know this, nor could she get away from the bright red flowers that were everywhere about; so presently her eyes grew heavy and she felt she must sit down to rest and to sleep. . . . “If we leave her here she will die,” said the Lion. “The smell of the flowers is killing us all.”

—Excerpt from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (book, published 1900)

The deadly poppy field symbolises the dangers of apathy and complacency. Despite my love for Berlin, I have always feared that this is my poppy field, that I would fall asleep here and never to wake up.

My friend Teresa told me that I am living in heaven, because I am far away from my parents and their stifling influence and I get to do whatever I want to do. For me, escaping the pain and sorrows of my family is simply the absence of sufferings, but to feel joy requires additional effort. I still feel empty inside, and I still crave the sensations of lying in a warm bed and disappearing into the night and never to wake up. It seems that the Poppy Field for me symbolises depression, the desire to disappear and feel nothing because you are overwhelmed and defeated, losing the faith in yourself and the light within you.

And the best way to get out of the depression is to start by uttering a simple sentence that starts with “I want…”

For now,

  • I want to get better
  • I want to get a meaningful job
  • I want to strengthen my body and my mind
  • I want to experience love
  • I want to use my gift
  • I want to achieve greatness
  • I want to feel the light that binds us

My wants are my prayers. They are the many gateways out of this depression. Out of this poppy field. Out of denial and complacency. And I must choose joy like my life is depended on it. Because it is.

The joy of your spirit is the indication of your strength

–Leo Tolstoy

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1 Response

  1. Liz says:

    You are being too harsh on yourself! You are very lovable and you are not boring at all. And I LOVE you! You will get a dream job before you know it. Good luck!

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