Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The School's Trees: On Pessimism and Clannad


As most people who read this blog know, I used to write and lead a blog called The School's Trees, which is about the TV shows Clannad and Clannad: Afterstory (one of the writers was Carpe Guitarrem, whose blog I suggest checking out, if you love RPGs). I've said repeatedly this is my favorite show of all time. I've now watched the show 9(!) times, and consider it part of the reawakening of my Christianity; a vital part of who I am was formed watching this show. I'm one of those nuts who thinks that people should watch good TV shows, and I heartily recommend what I think is the best of the best. So of course I recommend Clannad to people, and most of the time I get a "the scruffy hobbit with a foul mouth just recommended something to me and said it was really good, I'll pass" look.

But sometimes someone decides to take me up on my offer, albeit with the same look on their face. Two of my friends finished watching the show this Sunday while I was completing an icon of the Resurrection (which is amazing, I'll get a pic uploaded for ya'll later!). One of the friends (we'll call her Mary) loved the show, as well as the ending. I don't know if she "got" it, but I don't think anyone fully gets the ending of this show the first, second, or even third time around. But my other friend (we'll call him Raphael), didn't like the end. When I asked Raphael why he didn't he said that the show had been set up for tragedy since the beginning. I told him that wasn't so, and he looked at me like I was a bit nutty. Which is understandable, I suppose. There are warning signs. But I told him that there had been indications that the ending was going to be happy, that things would end well for Tomoya.

Then he looked at me like I was a real nutcase; that took me aback. I told him to watch it again, and that he could borrow my DVDs if he wished. But that look's stuck with me, and here I am trying to write about it. Because I know I would have given that same look to anyone who had told me that after watching the show for the first time. I went and watched it again, not because I liked the ending, but the exact opposite: I hated the ending, but loved the show so much that I figured I had to have missed something. A show that's this amazing doesn't screw up like this at the end.

I found out that I was right.

I had completely glossed over every single time the writers had foreshadowed that goodness was at the end of this show. It wasn't even that I ignored it, it had completely gone over my head. I had found all the workings of a tragedy, so that's what I focused on, I let situation blindness get to me, and only looked for what I wanted to find. It was then that I realized something really awful.

I wanted Tomoya to fail. And why shouldn't I? Why should Tomoya get a loved one back when I can't? I don't have an orb of light, children really aren't made of light orbs, wishes usually aren't granted like that, and damnit to hell that's just unreal! I wanted Tomoya to move on, marry Kyou, and be in the same sobering and depressing reality that I live in: that we can't get what we want, but must settle for something else. That'll shut him up, having to labor in a life that's the second choice that's... wait...

I love my life. I'm in a good place, and have everything that I could possibly want and more. I'm doing art and enjoying it for the first time in years. My iconography is finally becoming what I'd always wanted it to be: a personal source of inspiration, giving, healing, and love. I have an amazing girlfriend, someone who came up and out my childhood in a story of hope and love that would put this show to shame. I have friends who I could whistle for and they'd help me. I have an amazing family. All against odds that really are a snowball's chance in hell.

Everything I've asked for I've received, and then some.

So what am I so bitter about?

And that's just it. That's the joke. There's nothing right now that I'm in want for.

Nothing.

Absolutely. Frickin. Nothing.

Well, a car would be nice... a teleporter machine, if I could get my hands on it.

Anyway.

I don't think I've ever asked for a miracle that bends the laws of physics, time and space, so why should I get one? I don't need something like that, and I don't know of anyone who does. And the only people I know of who have gotten such a wish got it because they needed it. A widow had her son returned to her, people die for over an hour, see Heaven, and come back home. The largest religion in the history of the world teaches that we get our bodies back at the end of time because they're so fundamental  to our existence that even God won't let us go without them long.

Come to think of it, reality's a pretty nice place to be! The people who need stuff have it given to them in the time it's needed, in the right amount. As a Christian that's my avowed creed, something that I profess every single day in the Nicene Creed, every Sunday with a whole bunch of people I don't know but am brother to. We get what we need, God sees to that. He is good.

So why be so jaded about Tomoya? He asked, he got. So have I. So did the widow. So did the centurion. So did Francis of Assisi, Peter the Apostle, Saint Padre Pio, Saint Seraphim Rose, Saint Photini, my father, my mother, my girlfriend, my friends at Franciscan, Benedictine, wherever, and whoever's reading this post, even if they don't realize it. We've all got what we need.

So why does it bother us that Tomoya got his wish?