As the first of its kind, this metaphorical self-critique will be a little longer and weirder than previous posts. That’s more disclosure than a warning or apology. For questions concerning the nature of this specific post, see my previous post.
I’m still not sure what this site is and I’m a month in. Actually, I ain’t so much interested in what this blog is as much as I wanna know what this blog does and is doing.
Metaphorically considered, this blog is the Cell Arc in Dragonball Z–and I want to be Gohan.
Metaphors only work when folks know what the terms mean; so for those who never watched the Cell Games, a brief synopsis follows. For those who have, you may want to skip the next paragraph.
The short of the arc (though this synopsis does the story no justice): Dr. Gero, one of Goku’s oldest enemies, designs a creature named Cell to defeat Goku. Cell is made up of the cells of Goku and Goku’s friends and enemies. After traveling back through time, Cell “perfects” himself by absorbing two androids and becomes unstoppable. The stage is set for a confrontation between Goku and Cell, but in a turn of events, Gohan, Goku’s son, defeats Cell by finally awakening a hidden power that was hinted at in the first issues/episodes of DBZ. It took over a hundred episodes/issues for Gohan to reach Super Saiyan 2 (pictured above on the center). But what a payoff.
IMHO the Cell Arc is the best arc DBZ had to offer.
First reason: both Cell and Gohan had arduous journeys to reach their ultimate potential and those journeys took a long time to accomplish. This was always inspiring and sobering to me. Good and evil take time to come to fruition. Jesus was right. Both good trees and bad tress bear fruit. In a world so focused on production at all costs, we’d do well to remember that. Good trees and bad trees bear fruit. Bearing fruit tells us little to nothing.
Commentary on 1st reason: It’s probably going to take awhile for me to post consistent, thoughtful, and quirky posts. Even still, I hope this site is bearing good fruit. Just because I’ve produced blogs doesn’t mean I’ve produced something good. Cell produced the fruit of perfection and was still evil. Lawd, help. I hope I’m Gohan…
Second reason I think the Cell Games arc was the best: Gohan is not the main character of DBZ; Goku and Vegeta are. For a secondary character to be the hero of a story’s greatest arc is nothing short of sensational to me. Think of that. The greatest arc in a story did not have the main characters as the primary heroes. (That’s like Peter getting arrested, being crucified, and ultimately resurrected after the overwhelming majority of the story was about Jesus.) And even though Gohan beat Cell, he only did so after his friends helped to distract Cell. Even Yamchua, the “weakest” of all the Z fighters contributed to the cause. This is him at that moment, discharging his ki, his lifeforce, against a heavily entrenched evil.
Verily verily I say unto thee, animation can tell us something profound and extraordinary. To an American audience that normally watches anime for the fighting, action, and visual aesthetic, you’re missing something. These stories are almost always about relationships.
Commentary on 2nd reason: The metaphors of “Cell Games” and “Gohan” are apropos. I don’t want this website to be about “me” as Goku–the main character. I’d rather be Gohan, because no matter what, I don’t want these Sci-Fi Theologs to happen as self-glorification and I don’t want them to be predictable.
But even as I say that, I must admit: something is happening to me. It would be disingenuous to say nothing about it.
So here goes 4 self-critiques in relation to this blog.
1. Every time I post a blog, I feel like something is happening within me. Maybe I’m retrieving my long-lost and submerged voice(s)– voice(s) that had become like flotsam, jetsam, and lagan over the course of my life. That voice is precious abandoned cargo. True to my favorite character in DBZ, Piccolo–I desire to be united with my other self… O the Cell Games is deep, y’all.
My voice has always sought relationship, whether those relationships be simple or complex, mundane or extraordinary. So the suppression of my voice led to the suppression of my ability to holistically connect to things within, beyond, or around me. I have to be (brutally) honest. I’ve let the institutions of church and academia stifle my voice. That has stifled my ability to discern the interconnection between the mundane and extraordinary. It’s not that these institutions muzzled me by force. It’s just that I allowed the institutions to have ownership of my calling when the calling originated from Alabama Red Mud, the people, myself, and a Divine Reality that refuses to be boxed in.
2. With each post, I feel like something is happening beyond me. Maybe I’m remembering why I used to stand outside and look at the stars for hours back in Madison County. Maybe the bright lights of the city are starting to fade and Country Boy–bitten by mosquitoes in the humid summer and ravaged by “the hawk” in the cool of winter–has found wonder in the midst of the mundane and extraordinary. Intergalactic funk…
3. With each posting, I feel like something is happening around me. I see the impact of my (in)activity… My failures, my successes, my frustrations, my hopes, my regrets, my faith, my doubt, my love, and my fear–I see the results of these acts ever more clearly with each letter I type.
I’m a flawed human being trying to live out my calling and potential… No pity party. Just reality. And like DBZ’s treatment of Cell and Gohan, this site highlights personal, social, and cosmic flaws as well as personal, social, and cosmic potential.
4. With each post, I feel like something is happening to me. Like I’m in the Cell Games and I don’t know which DBZ character I am. I hope I’m Gohan. Not because he came out victorious and beat the bad guy, but because he finally awakened what was always there after much time and duress. Because one does not need to be the center of every story in order to contribute to the cause.
So this blog is not about self-glorification.
It’s about self-(re)discovery and social commentary.
The words of this website attempt to examine, illuminate, and inspire, but they are no substitute for the daily practice of love, mercy, and justice.
Summary: Life can take away our voice and our feeling. We can become desensitized to the world around, beyond, and within us. But life is a precious gift, a sign of grace and love. Life is structured by resiliency and precariousness.
Our lives are no different, I suppose. As our cells divide and keep us alive, we are navigating a life that has too often been reduced to a game. Our Cells are trying to keep us alive through cycle of death and rebirth. Yet, while that cosmic/cellular cycle remains around, within, and beyond us, we keep trying to win the “game”of life. And we are so busy trying to win, we forget about living. Or worse, we equate winning with living and losing with death. If our cells thought that way, life would’ve never got off the ground. I’m speaking metaphorically, y’all.
This is life. Beautiful and ugly, resilient and precarious… Amazing and banal.
Like Dr. Gero was to Goku, the Spirit of Fear is of one of our oldest nemeses… You and I are locked in an ongoing struggle against this primordial force. I believe our priority should be the spirit of Love. Because Love in the service of the Fear Spirit breeds Hate, Self-hatred, Xenophobia, Unfulfilled Dreams, Social Inequality, and all kinds of damage and death. Perfect Fear.
What is this blog? Maybe, and perhaps ultimately, it is another site to wrestle against the spiritual and social progenitors of fear and hatred. This website is a Spiritual Cell Game. And I keep on finding myself. I keep on training. I keep on writing. I keep building upon the foundations laid by others. I keep standing on the shoulders of those before me.
We need to find our inner-Super Saiyans.
I want to do what Gohan did. I want to find myself and do my part in the struggle… So I keep searching…
These blogs–though not exhaustive and no subtitute for concrete acts of love, mercy, and justice–help me search for questions and answers, clarify my thoughts, and instill a sense of play and joy that I often throw overboard when the storms of life are raging.
Love the stars. Love life. Love others. Love yourself. Love our precious planet that gives and sustains life.
©2016 M. J. Sales