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Story

I’ve always been a huge fan of Studio Ghibli’s films. It seems like they tug at my heartstrings in ways that no other movies can. Even the sweetest and silliest moments can bring tears to my eyes, and I sit there feeling silly and yet, not caring at all. I rarely watch these movies with others though, because I know they just wouldn’t understand.

For the longest time, my favorite film was Kiki’s Delivery Service. I’ve seen it countless times, and it holds a special place for me.

For a while, it was The Cat Returns, because Haru’s journey to finding herself was so familiar to me.

Lately though, for some reason, my favorite Ghibli film has been Only Yesterday. I think I’m finally toward a point in my life where this film feels like it’s talking about me. The story of a city girl, Taeko, going to visit the country, reminiscing about her fifth-grade self, and wondering what she really wants from life…I think this film is understated and beautiful, if you’re paying attention.

It speaks to me, all of it, from her rememberances of her awkward fifth-grade self, to her struggles with math and her frustrations with feeling stupid and different because of it…even her longing for living a life in the countryside, but never dreaming she could actually have it. Taeko is a girl who dreams but is afraid to give justification to her own feelings. And yet, at 27, she’s steadfastly single, unwilling to risk compromising what she has. She reminds me so much of myself.

And like all Ghibli films, it’s artfully and subtly crafted.

I think we, as humans, like movies and books and…well, stories, because they cause us to take a look at our own lives as a story, instead of just viewing them through the narrow lens of our everyday existence. And when we see a story that closely relates to us, we are taken in by the wish that our lives, too, would be a story with a happy ending.

But at the conclusion of most stories, the character’s lives are not at an end. They continue living, day after day, after the credits roll. And I think it’s important for us to keep that in mind. Cinderella had to wake up every day next to Prince Charming, and I bet there were days when she didn’t want to be queen, where she and the prince got mad at each other, or maybe she didn’t get along with the prince’s mother…these are the kind of things that happen every day, and we would be wise to remember them.

Life is full of beauty, and I think that it is one of God’s greatest masterpieces that our hearts and minds can be so swept up in the things we observe. But it’s important, also, to remember that the most beautiful story unfolding is the one we’re living, as unglamorous or irrelevant as it may seem at times. And the happy ending we’re looking for is like a glow on the horizon, and place beyond the rising sun where our Father has made a place for us.

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