Grace is one of those terms people use without really knowing what it means. We know there’s something special about it – we think of graceful people or gracious words, and they bring light, fluffy, angelic images to mind. The meaning of grace is even better than those thoughts – it’s an undeserved love. The word in action has the power to change people and to make them see the world in a different light.
In episode one of Your Lie in April (Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso), Kousei is a young man living in ungrace. Life has been hard on him – he lives without his father, absent due to work, and without him mom, who died several years prior. And before that, his life was centered around being a piano prodigy whose performance determined how much love he would receive from his mom. He was earning love, in a transaction relationship with the person that he cared for most. It was the exact of opposite of grace.
Years later, Kousei no longer performs on the piano. But as his best friend, Tsubaki, mentions, he still desperately clings to it. All he’s known is approval through music, so what else can he do?
But if I’m still clinging to it, it must be because I have nothing else Take away the piano and I’m empty. There’s nothing left but an ugly resonance.
Though maybe not as obviously, we, too, try to earn the approval of people and things. Our relationships are often based on this idea of earning – we’ll be friends with people who reciprocate, and visa-versa. Certainly at work, we meet ungrace – if we don’t perform, we’ll be fired, and if we perform well, we’ll be promoted. And how many of us have parents who don’t seem too far from Kousei’s mom, showering us with love when we do what they expect, but expressing disappointment otherwise?
The major problem with these relationships, which emphasize results, is that we’ll ultimately fail. We’re imperfect. So what happens when we let the most important people in our lives down? Kousei’s reaction perhaps isn’t too far from what we might experience, a loss of feeling, sadness, anger, loss – a seeing the world in “monotone.”
Ah, but what happens when we instead experience grace?
The moment I met him, my life changed. Everything I saw, everything I heard, everything I felt, all the scenery around me started to take on color. The whole world began to sparkle.
When Kaori plays the melodica, Kousei’s eyes begin to open. Her beauty opens his eyes further, and when she takes his hand, well, that’s it. Kousei is gone. His world is no longer monotone, but vivid and colorful. He’s experienced something that he didn’t deserve – immense beauty, both audibly and visually. Kousei did nothing to earn this beauty – it was just given to him.
And so begins a journey for Kousei – one that I imagine will open his eyes, that will cause his “whole world…to sparkle.” His tidy and self-contained world, painted black by despair and legalism, will be shaken by something unexpected, by beauty and love that he can’t earn. It’s something he desperately needs – as do we all.