Psalm 118:24 – “This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
When I read my first slice-of-life manga, I was shocked. I had always thought that one of the most important things about manga was having a good, complex plot. It is important, but not always necessary.
ARIA is about a girl named Akari Mizunashi, who hundreds of years into the future travels to Mars, which has been terra-formed and re-named Aqua, to become a female gondolier in the city of Neo-Vanezia. From the first chapter, I was captivated. Everything was so peaceful and calm. It was almost as if I was right there, amid the bright-red leaves of autumn, rowing a gondola. The conflicts were minor, the action was trivial, but it all seemed so real, so peaceful, and so beautiful I couldn’t stop reading it. Part of what makes this possible is the heroine of the manga, Akari.
In the story, Earth, (or “Man Home”, as the Martians call it) has very advanced technology and has changed to the point where it is devoid of nature. Akari has never swam in the ocean or had to do things by hand. Everything that happens on Aqua is new and interesting to her, even things that would normally bore me (like cleaning). She is able to find beauty and fun in everything she does, to the point where she rarely does anything quickly or carelessly. Even though Akari’s life is busy, she still finds moments to enjoy the small things, and when the big, hard things come, she somehow manages to enjoy them too. The people around her are pulled into this mindset, and it’s honestly not hard to be absorbed in it.
There are so many things that are wonderful about each and every day. It’s easy to love things when they’re in a beautifully drawn manga, not so much in real life. Especially in modern times, when there are so many opportunities, we’re always dreaming bigger, reaching higher, trying to squeeze as many things into our limited 24 hours as is possible. That’s when I think we begin to forget what a beautiful world we live in. We begin to neglect the people around us, and how much fun it is to spend time with them. However, even on the days that it seems like there is absolutely nothing good (and everyone has been there) and there is no way possible to be joyful, it is still important to remember that God has blessed us with a lot in life, and we just can’t ignore them. Many of us are so busy trying to make sure that things turn out all right, and that we get everything done. Sometimes it’s necessary, but sometimes we are so afraid that things won’t go well, we overwork ourselves. I don’t believe that that’s what God wants for us.
Having joy isn’t something easy to do, of course. As much as I love to feel the rain on my face, as much as I love to watch sunsets, and as much as I like to look at the stars, there’s always something in the way. There’s always the worry that I wont be able to get things done if I don’t hurry, as well as the logic that trying to enjoy doing things doesn’t matter as much as getting them done. These things are often true, but they shouldn’t stop us from being happy. Even through drudgery and anxiety, sometimes how much fun something is determined by how we look at it.
Of course, there are times that are especially hard, when something sad or horrible happens, and life seems empty of all joy. In fact, it seems almost wrong to be joyful and happy when there are people who are suffering. But even though the sad things are important too, they shouldn’t make us forget that there are still things to be joyful about. When life seems devoid of blessings, it’s just that we focus so much on everything that brings us down and forget what lifts us up. Life can be so frustrating and all of our problems seem so big that we forget the little things that make life beautiful.
God has made a wonderful world for us to live in, and yet we don’t enjoy it. Isn’t that strange? Finding joy in the little things makes life happier, and more interesting. It adds color to life.
Someday, things will change, and the things that bring us joy right now will be different. They’ll change to other things, and while those things will be equally as important, some things will be lost. Some times are more joyful than others, and they won’t last forever. That’s why we need to find the joyful things while we can, before the hard times come.
That’s why joy is important. Because without the joyful things in life, we wouldn’t have the strength to make it through the things that bring us down.