How do I end this, then, the story of a life that has both been incredible and amazing and yet has never really begun? What dreams and hopes and fears await me in the future?
I don’t know but I’d at least like to talk about what has brought me to this point, this sunlit garden amdist roses that will never, ever die. In a word, love. “Vincit amor omnia, regit amor omnia.” (Love conquers all, love reigns over all.) One could also say that love might be another word for God, and I’m not sure that they wouldn’t be right.
do you know
how much I have loved?
I first knew when I was younger
how powerful this simple word could be
then I forgot
but then I learnt it anew.
dreams brought me
what my mind could never know
and life has taught me
far more than I once wished.
but it has been worth it
to return to that place under the sun
to know what I once knew in my younger days.
I call upon that which has no name and
against this onslaught of love
all sin is washed away
all pain is rendered insignificant
the ground itself shakes
the heavens thunder
and I stand invincible
upon barren earth.
I loved many and I loved well. Whether it was the love of games or my sister or my friends or my family or the whole world. Wherever I’ve travelled in this world or in others I have loved truly and as best as I can and it has been that which has broken past all darkness.
So many times I’ve wanted to climb that pyramid and stare Old Man Maslow in the face and yell “THIS IS IT! I’VE ACHIEVED SELF-ACTUALIZATION!” Were he alive I’m sure he would laugh and tell me there is no such thing. And he would be right. Self-actualization (whatever that is) is just the beginning. Somehow I managed to jump right from the fifth tier to the first. Stranger things have happened!
In all this time I have never really felt free. Which is most probably because I haven’t been. My bondage started before I was born, most probably in China somewhere hundreds of years ago. Abuse has a long history, and somewhere along the line, the cycle has to be broken lest it continue, stealing more hopes and dreams and lives. The strength to cut those tangled threads – perhaps that is the true destiny of that blade that was forged so long ago.
And what of it now? Perhaps now for the first time since its inception it can be sheathed. Excalibur returns to the Lady of the Lake, the Master Sword once again sleeps in the forests of Hyrule, the Sword of Mana comes undone, its duty complete. The Elsydeon breaks and in its breaking all is laid to rest. Until such a time as I may need it once more, the sword that cleaves evil remains as yet unbroken.
I think I must have encountered every possible feeling of resistance in writing this. It certainly feels like it! It’s too long. It has too much abuse, too little video games. Too much video games, too little abuse. It’s non-topical. Some readers won’t get all the references. You should choose your target audience more carefully. It needs more editing. It’s not concise enough. Only TCKs are going to get the TCK stuff. People aren’t into what you’re writing (as you can see that crops up a lot) You have too many Japanese games, not enough Western ones. Whatever.
In the end I just don’t listen. And if I need to, I slam the critic against the wall with a chokehold and beat the stuffing out of it. This was my life – still is my life. Everything I’ve written has been how it has happened. All things considered, it’s been amazing. There has been pain, joy, wonder, anguish, giant robots, abuse, video games, the Divine, the mundane, romance, betrayal, and everything else in between.
I’ve had to leave out so much! It quite pains me to be honest. How to name all the friends who shaped my life, and not just those from cosplay or the EVA ML or that I met online. Mark, my strangely reliable computer repairman. The fat dude in a games shop who sold me a PSP at an incredibly discounted price because he “liked my style” (and then told me not to tell his boss)
It’s only when I passed the 60,000 word mark that I realized I never even mentioned my 2 cats whom I love dearly and who were there for me in both the happiest and darkest of days. Sleeping on my lap, jumping on my bookshelves, meowing for no reason, catching lizards and generally making loveable nuisances of themselves.
My life has been full of the love not just and for humans but animals as well. The cats (I love cats! Not just catgirls!) that I’ve met literally all over the world, in carparks and fountains and places both high and low, grassy and grey. The long white female cat who tried to follow me home into the taxi that I got into once near Ma Ma’s place. The bird who flew suddenly onto my shoulder into Japan and regarded me steadily with the unflinching gaze that all avians have. The kangaroo who ate from my outstretched hand in Australia. All the dogs that have come up to me to lick me or otherwise show their friendship.
The shadows playing across the moonlit windows of my room, tall shapes dancing across the ceiling – it’s amazing how they looked the same no matter where I lived or visited. All the other movies that I had no time to see. How I learnt to play the guitar. The other trips I took to other lands in many worlds.
Zhen Xun suggested that I have volumes – i.e more than one book, but that seems a little self-indulgent to me. I think at the age of thirty-three, one (especially one this long!) should suffice. Most people don’t even write one until much, much later. Besides which, I have to finish this at some point! The life that I have fought so hard and long to lead is out there, just waiting for me to live it.
The neurons that have been so torn and twisted still sometimes dance their fevered dance of anxiety. Myelin sheaths take my thoughts down well-traveled pathways where they do not want to go. Gabatronic receptors may fire in old patterns. But I have faith that everything that has brought me to this point will heal them in time as well. And hey! Maybe they are already gone. I’m alright – for real this time.
For the first time in forever there is no specter of mental illness looming over me, no shadow cast over this place of light. The past hasn’t disappeared completely, of course. It’s still there in some way. And there will be obstacles and problems and fears in the future, I’m sure. But everything is different now. I feel like a new person – because I am. I could not choose my first birth (at age one), nor my second (at age five), but I sure as hell could and did choose the third. And the third time’s the charm, they say.
In the writing I can see how all aspects of me have been reflected, from the British literature of my early days (I’m sure some of my turns of phrase could be considered rather archaic…like this one) to my All-American tendency to curse and swear, the fantasy novels of my youth and teenage, my penchant for brackets (a holdover from the message boards and mailing lists of the early Internet – oh yes, and the fact that one word of the English titles of the Evangelion movies is also in brackets is perhaps not a coincidence)
I hope I’ve portrayed all the aspects of myself and selves as well as I was able – the lonely child who did not even really know that he was lonely, but had such delight in all of life. The young boy who played game after game and read book after book on both sides of the world. The embattled youth who hated everything, summoning all the light he could from what he knew and loved the best in order to live. The brother who loved his sister more than anything in the world (and still does!) and who would have given up his life to spare her any pain. The young man who ran and played and sang and gamed and worked and loved as often and as hard as he could in the face of constant suffering and what often seemed a cruel and unrelenting world.
And finally that older (but still young, I’m only thirty-three! people nowadays act like that’s a death sentence! I should know…I often did) person who found the light once more – because it had never really gone away. It was always there, in my heart, in the hearts of others, in every motherfucking little thing on this beautiful and wonderful planet, shining in the darkness.
All in all I never stopped dreaming. What you hold in your hands (or more likely are reading on a screen) is the result of that. Don’t stop! Carry on! Keep on dreaming. I think what I loved and continue to love so much about anime songs is their constant reminder of this. There’s always a blue sky, always a shining light somewhere, always a better future, always hope.
Such a life it’s been. Such a life. So much has happened! I can’t quite believe it sometimes. Did I really live all this? Can I really have had such adventures and experiences? It certainly seems so.
The games I’ve played…so many games! And the songs. And the friends – from all ages and walks of life and all around the world. Everything we shared together, anime and singing and talking, meals and jokes and so much else.
The pain, ever my constant but unwanted companion. My sister’s smiling face, and her tears of anguish.
Mum and Dad who could never really be the parents that I needed but tried their hardest. I love you both too.
Somehow it’s all coming together now, in ways that I could never have imagined. I was cast adrift on the winds of fate but now I return, a wanderer who comes once more to the shores of Paradise.
Above all (though it’s a little late to say this) I hope it has been interesting! I think that is the first rule of fiction, even more important than Show, Don’t Tell. (which is a close second) If you don’t feel like turning the next page (or clicking the next button) then you’re not going to hear what I have to say. Which, seeing as you’re reading this, you obviously have.
Sora no aosa, yoru no fukasa, soshite hitobito no nukumori – sore wa eien ni kawaranai mono. (The blueness of the sky, the depth of night, and the warmth of people. These are things that will never change.) I believe so at least.
I’ve often asked myself why I never gave in, why I tried so hard in my therapy (more than ten years now!) why I fought so hard, why I wished so deeply to forgive. Why I didn’t just get a “normal” job and live a “normal” life. Watashi ga motomete ita no wa kanzen-naru kaihou, soshite shikkou naru yorokobi. (What I desired was complete release, and joy supreme.) And in many ways I have attained that.
Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose. (The more things change, the more things stay the same.) I still know many many more Japanese songs (from various genres) than I do English ones – which Meimei says will always be the case. The Singapore education system is STILL in dire need of a fundamental restructuring – in my opinion at least. There are still many games that will never make it to Western shores.
But I take myself out of what I know and love so much and try and see the bigger picture. It’s easy to forget, caught up in our own lives as we are (an unfortunate effect of the ego) that we are part of a larger whole, a greater existence. This was (still is!) my life, but everyone has their own story to tell. Everything is connected to everything.
It’s a strange and wonderful world we live in. 3D printers, virtual reality, robotic arms, social media, and science that can capture the entirety of the world’s libraries in a single drop of DNA. Buddhism is making its presence felt in psychology in a big way.
There has been someone cured of AIDS. We WILL find a cure for cancer – or perhaps it’s already happened in ways that conventional medicine can only begin to guess at. Quantum physics bridges God and science…which in my opinion at least were never really separate in the first place.
And yet there are tribesmen on the Kalahari that know nothing of these things, just like how for the longest time my mother knew nothing of the depth and kindness of the human heart.
The ego will continue to exist – at least until such a time as humanity transcends it. People will continue to do good, and continue to do evil. The dance of creation continues in all its joy and majesty. Things are born, live for a time, and then die once more. But nothing is ever truly lost. I know this now.
It is not until I finished writing this that I knew how truly I loved, how hard I fought, how much I grieved.
I used to think that I was the only person in the world to whom Evangelion had such deep meaning but now I am not so sure. Surely there are many who have been saved and had their spirits moved by many of the same things. Are there other lost souls, young people like my past self years ago who had no parents and only video games and anime for company? Other TCKs, split between worlds, wondering, worried, wandering? People both young and old whose lives have been ravaged by mental illness? Other survivors of abuse?
If this can reach anyone, please let it. Let this be the blade that delivers them from darkness, as I too have been delivered. I wrote this for myself, yes, but also for everyone that may need it – because I am also part of everyone, and everything. As Hideaki Anno put all of himself into Evangelion, I have put all of myself into the writing of this. By the Hand and Grace of the Divine, may these words reach whoever they need to.
As the past continues to disintegrate I let myself believe that this really was the best time to write this whole thing. It couldn’t have been done at any other point in time, that’s for sure. I was always so terrified in my teenage that my work would be too Japanese for Western audiences and too geeky for the average reader…but anime is everywhere now and geeks rule the world.
In the end they are all ideas and stories – whether they come from East or West, in the forms of books, games, people, animals, or everything and anything else. All aspects of the Eternal. Maybe Plato was right after all.
In any case there’s no time like the present, and so I nock my arrow to the bow and let loose the missive of my life across the open plains and into the wide blue yonder.
Now I can see for myself as well the life that I REALLY led, free from illusions and phantoms that have been part and parcel of my daily life for as long as I can remember. Everything I’ve ever done and felt. What really happened and not what I thought happened. To see with my own eyes and no one else’s what the truth of my existence has been.
I’ll change from this point on, as I have been doing all my life. The world flows into us as surely as we flow into it. I’ll be very different at forty, at fifty, for however long I live. And so will everything else.
I guess thirty-three is a little early to wax maudlin about the state of the world but I can’t help it…things have changed so much! For me at least. One day they’ll be no more taxis – driverless cars will replace everything. Nanomachines will be most probably be a reality someday. New advances in medical science (not to mention everything else!) are happening every day. We may even have the hoverboards from Back to the Future at some point.
Who will I be in ten years? Twenty? What will the world be like? I have no idea and you cannot believe how liberating that is after a life spent having to know things. I don’t deny that I’m scared as well. But somehow the anticipation outweighs the fear.
The wheel turns and we cannot stop it. But we can enjoy the ride! You know the carnival comes and goes, but if you wait for a while, it’ll always come back to you.
Whatever the future brings, we can only live in the now, and we still have to live our lives in the best way that we can. I write this now and it’s like all the shoujo manga I have ever read is burning in my veins. We have to tell each other how we feel. Tell ourselves how we feel! Be honest with our feelings and emotions. Love (romantically or otherwise) each other and everything and everyone.
From the moment I first thought of this book I’ve known how I would end it. I’ve cut nearly a hundred thousand words, reworked several chapters and changed chapter titles a dozen times. But its conclusion has always been the same.
In the Red Cross Book – the theatrical program book for the End of Evangelion – Megumi Ogata, Shinji Ikari’s voice actress, ends her personal interview with the words. “Watashi wa, hito ga, daisuki desu.” (I love people very much.)
I have much the same sentiment. Whoever you are and wherever you are reading this, know that I love you, and that I wish nothing but the best for you, even if we have never met or will never meet. May all of the Universe guide and protect you and lead you to your heart’s desire, and your life filled with the love of others, much as mine was and continues to be.
Let me say it one final time – whoever you are, I love you.
Hikari no gokago
to hoshi no shukufuku
wo aran koto yo.
(May the Grace of the Light
And the fortune of the stars
Be upon you.)
February 29, 2016