“Hey, remember 2020?”
If we have a future, a better one at that, this question would become a buzzword. But until then, we just have to endure.
Problems or issues can start conflicts and what the entire world is experiencing right now can really bring out the ugly side of the people. And there’s not much we can do about it. We can only try our best to survive this whole mess with the hope that things will eventually get better somehow.
As a person we are already equipped with a coping mechanism when things go south. However, how we cope with life’s difficulties might change overtime.
Here’s how I deal with 2020 in the hope that someone, somewhere, would stumble upon this short writing and maybe, it will help them even if it’s just a small chunk of positivity through the day.
- Haikyuu!! (anime)
Haikyuu is an anime based on a manga with the same title by Haruichi Furudate. I watch a lot of anime in my childhood years and gradually stopped when I was a sophomore. A while ago I noticed my wife was watching this and she said that it was really good. I was pretty skeptical at first. Sure I’ve started to watch a few animes again since last year. I’ve watched Gintama, Steins Gate, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, and yeah they’re very entertaining. But anime about volleyball? I mean I couldn’t even take it seriously back then. But since my wife is a very persuasive person, I ended up watching it anyway. And it was a really great show for us.
I never expected that an anime will coax me into being interested with a sport that I played only because my teacher told me to. Last time I played volleyball was when I was in senior high and I had red arms for a while after that. I was never an athletic person so I thought who the hell would want to torture their hands like this?
However, watching Haikyuu made me feel something. The anime has massive positive vibes. Character development takes up a large part in its story. Additionally, it’s relatable even to people who don’t play volleyball. Surely sports in general must have a positive philosophical value or mental attitude but we heard the phrase “Practice makes perfect” or “All for one and one for all” too many times it’s lost its meaning.
If I read a “How to” article which only says, for example, exercise regularly to get better physical and mental health, I would have no interest in reading further because I already know that exercise is good for my overall health, I’m just too lazy doing it. On the other hand, if the article throws in a few relatable examples, like a real person or events, and a detailed explanation on the type of exercise that they did in a certain amount of time, things might get a little more interesting for me because there are feelings involved there, and sentimental values tend to stick in our heads much longer than emotionless listicles of how to.
Haikyuu is, at the very least, that emotional article, beautifully visualized both technically as an animation and conceptually in its storytelling causing more emotional reactions to its viewers. It’s very heartwarming looking at a team just giving their all on every game, supporting each other and apologizing immediately after they made a mistake. And I’m not talking about the main character’s team only. Almost every other teams have their own backstory, they have their own struggles and hardships, yet when they stand together at the court, they will always try their best to win no matter what.
The creative minds behind Haikyuu clearly know what they’re doing and they themselves had put so much effort into it. It’s always moving to see someone or a group of people giving an extra mile into what they do. I realized this after I watched a YouTube channel called Elevate Yourself in which Coach Donny, a volleyball coach and a former volleyball player, reacts to Haikyuu anime starting from the first episode and still ongoing every week for each episode to this day. He said in one of his videos that this anime is way too relatable to be fiction. I recommend that you watch his reactions after watching the anime to get a breakdown of the details and how it relates to a volleyball player. Thank you, Coach!
2. NieR: Automata (game)
I wrote an article about this game a couple weeks ago. It’s a 3 year old game but that doesn’t make it irrelevant. However, I suggest to be careful about this one though. For starters, its story is philosophical and quite depressing. From one standpoint, it’s a world without meaning. Existentialism is an issue accompanied by nihilism and chaos. We can look at it in different ways because in my opinion Yoko Taro is somewhat an open interpretation type of storyteller. Despite that, the true ending to this game is very beautiful and conveys a strong message for its players.
For this case though, if you haven’t played Undertale yet I suggest you play that first before proceeding to NieR: Automata. Not that they’re related or anything but I personally think that Undertale is better at sending positive vibes. Please don’t mind the pixelated JRPG style. It has an amazing story and soundtracks, that’s all we need right?
In addition to that, I also watched some let’s play channels on YouTube. There’s thousands of let’s players that can make you smile, tons that can make you laugh, but if you want someone who takes video games story seriously, Materwelonz is the one you’re looking for. She’s got interesting insights, thorough gameplay, and attention to details. A very underrated YouTuber I’d say. I mean who plays The Witcher Series because they read the book? We normal non-Polish people do the opposite. And by the way, she speaks three languages, English, Mandarin, and Japanese.
3. Thinking, Fast and Slow (book)
I haven’t really finished reading it actually. But halfway through the book I was already amazed and I expected no less from a Nobel Prize winner.
Dr. Daniel Kahneman is a very accomplished professor at Princeton University. He wrote a book called Thinking, Fast and Slow in 2011. I was referred to this book by an article talking about investments, yet the book itself is not about that. It’s about explaining the way our brain works. There are two main behaviors, or characters as Dr. Kahneman explains it, in our brain. The more agile, spontaneous, involuntary system, and the structured, careful, lazy one. He named them System 1 and System 2 respectfully. Or in my own words :
System 1: jumping to conclusions, setting standards, assessing everyday situation, simple math operations.
System 2: fact checking, double checking, complex math, the thing that we call thinking.
But who knows the other half of the book might be all about investing. Nah, fat chance. Anyway, that doesn’t mean it’s not interesting. It is in fact the opposite. Not to sound blue but investments obviously need money and I don’t have that right now. So I feel that it’s much more educating learning about our mind and that everything we see, including some scientific research data, is mostly an illusion, rather than learning something I can’t do yet.
Speaking of the systems, I find that it helps in understanding, although not fully, why I think the way I think.
System 1 is responsible for assessing our surroundings. Things like, Am I in danger? Is everything normal? What am I expecting for the day? And all that.
I find myself these days having bouts of irrational fear towards something. Could be anxiety, could be not. I mean you’d need a shrink to diagnose that sort of thing right? But reading the book made me realize that whatever it is, it’s simply System 1’s doing. And System 1 can be influenced by System 2, i.e. by forcing a smile, practicing breathing technique, or talking to another person, with the proper distance of course.
Anyway, even though this book is about scientific findings and research about our mind, I feel that Kahneman is really dumbing it down for us. I haven’t found any complicated psychological terms so far. But simplicity is a sign of a genius and by that the book reaches to more people as opposed to psychologists only.
4. Conan O’Brien (show)
This one is easy enough to explain. If you simply want to laugh, go visit his channel Team Coco on YouTube. Conan is a brilliant comedian and his show is not limited within the studio only. He traveled the world to spread love and laughs. At a glance, his show looks both hilarious and entertaining to me. But I can also see that the creative team put so much hard work into just a few seconds of a video. I guess that’s what a quality content takes.
5. And there’s a fifth. There’s always a fifth. Even though it’s the last on my list, it is far from being the least important.
What good are those things that I mentioned above without someone to share it with? Probably still pretty good but having someone to share about it makes them even better. Yep, she’s my wife. She is the best thing that have ever happened to me. She introduced Undertale to me, I recommended NieR: Automata to her and we both loved those. We watch animes, YouTube, movies, and shows together. Most of our interests intertwined and it really helps a lot in getting me through these tough times. I could imagine us re-watching movies or replaying some games in our retirement days when our children have already had their own life away from home. Hell I’m even thinking about streaming the games if streaming were still a thing in the future. “A Couple of Old Timers Play Mass Effect Trilogy Remastered”. Yeah that’ll bring some viewers in.
It’s not always about solving the problem. Some problems are beyond our control. Laughing today doesn’t change the fact that I still have to go to the job I hate tomorrow. Practicing breathing technique to relieve anxiety won’t suddenly stop Covid-19 from spreading. Watching a wholesome anime won’t solve anything, the same way having a meaningful conversation with your spouse won’t always end up with a solution. But you know what? They do help me in getting through the day. They do help me in achieving a certain ease of mind.
A mind clouded with fear, anxiety, or maybe even depression won’t be able to function well to endure this ordeal, let alone solving problems.
Whoever you are, if you’re feeling trapped right now either physically or mentally, or both, please hang in there. I might be able to relate to what you’re struggling with, I might not. You might like the four things that I mentioned above or you might not. It’s different for each and every person. And I’m not saying I have successfully conquered myself. How I cope through this year, honestly (and obviously), is not limited within those five things. I’ve been forcing myself to do stuff. I read, watch, write, play video games, talk, and laugh, even when sometimes doing all those things seem unbearable and tiring. And sometimes I just can’t force myself anymore. I can only try. So let’s hang in there together just for a little more. Keep trying our best and let’s pray everything wil turn out well in the end.