:: Rituals That Sustain Us ::
If you have watched Departures, the Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language Film, you will know that Departures is about the tribulations of an undertaker, or okuribito (the person who sends off, literally translated). While the theme of sending off the dead is central to the plot of the movie, the other important theme, pervasive though not in focus, in the protagonist’s love for his cello. In fact, the same haunting cello melody flowed through the entire movie, throughout the ups and downs of Daigo’s life.
If you didn’t know, the soundtrack of the film was composed by Joe Hisaishi. I know Joe, because he is the same composer who composed the soundtrack of Hayao Miyazaki’s many animes, such as Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, and the most recent Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea. However, the one that left an indelible impression on me was his composition for Laputa: Castle in the Sky, in 1986.
As much as we were presented with the visual rituals of death, and how these rituals, and those who perform them, are being shunned by society, we could have lost sight of the fact that there was another recurring ritual, the ritual of playing the cello. Coincidentally (or not?), it was Daigo’s first ritual that was shunned when the Orchestra lost its popularity and was thus disbanded. It was also the ritual that Daigo that returned to, time and time again, during the lowest points of his journey. Perhaps, like the rituals of death, that gives the living a reason to mourn, and then, to move on, playing the cello was Daigo’s personal ritual, that gave him a source of comfort and strength to carry on with life.
While M suddenly found passion again, tucked away in the corner of the bedroom, in the form of his dusty old cello, I wonder what my ritual is. Is it music, like how it was for Daigo and M? Or was it something else? Upon introspection, I realised that my ritual could just be the same as the people reading what I’ve just written – journaling. It is the very ritual, the ritual of diarying and journaling that I have started since my secondary school days. It has never ceased, and perhaps I should take this opportunity to relook at this ritual of mine, and write some more.
What is your ritual?