Despite my calls of authenticity, I have a habit, still, of showing only the best side of me on Beneath the Tangles. I try to make it seem as if I have it all together, as if my faith is rock solid and that I’m a humble dad, faithful father, and all-around amazing Christian. But that’s not true to me, not at all. Last week, for instance, I had a meltdown. Life was too hard, I was too stressed, and my body was too tired. I was none of those things I exhibit in the digital world – I devolved into a mean, anxiety-filled, angry man. Among all the awful thoughts running through my head came a very strange one (such is how my brain works when it’s in a frenzy): I’ve watched all the new shows I intended to this season except Inuyashiki. Forget that one – I don’t have time to be watching more shows!
A few days later, when my life had calmed and I remembered how God has proven that there’s always hope in my life, I tried Inuyashiki. I kind of wish I had watched it the day I exploded because my other thoughts that night, more serious and depressive, fit right in with what the old man protagonist of that series was experiencing (sans the whole death-alien-android angle). As strange as it seems, I could empathize almost completely with Ichiro Inuyashiki – and I bet the same could be said of many of you.
The majority of Inuyashiki episode one focuses on the sorry life the title character leads. Among other things, his family is unloving towards him and others (what family doesn’t want a brand new dog?!), he is stuck in a job where he seems to be unable to progress, and then the big one – he is coldly diagnosed with terminal cancer. Inuyashiki tries to contact his family members about the illness, but they ignore his calls, and by the time he returns home, the old man does what he always does: he internalizes the suffering and makes little of himself, hiding the diagnosis from his wife and instead letting her berate him about the new dog he adopted. It’s only to the dog that Inuyashiki finally confesses his frustration and fear.
I think a lot of us have been in that place where we feel there’s no one for us to turn to. Inuyashiki has to look toward his dog for comfort rather than his family, because what they demonstrate is that they don’t love him. I felt similarly sometimes as a teenager, overtaken by hormones and aggrandizement, but even nowadays, when I’m in a mood like I was a few days ago, these thoughts come to my mind: I give and give and give…but no one gives back to me! Those thoughts can fuel anger, or they can fuel depression.
I think these thoughts have most power when they seem most true. There are situations in my life where in that certain moment, I don’t have a person I can turn to. Admittedly, these moments are relatively few in my life, since I’m married, but they’re still there; they were present more often when I was single and didn’t have that many intimate friends. There’s a reality there, as with Inuyashiki when no one answers his calls: no one is there for you. You’re on your own. And that feeds into this narrative: you are unloved.
The reality, of course, is rarely that harsh. We might be unloved in the moment, but loved better during most times. We might not have great relationships, but we do have people that care about us. We might be in a situation where love isn’t easily expressed, but it’s still there. Or we might just be in a lull in our life, when times before and times after will be more filled with love.
Also, there’s this: the harshness of the moment contains within it the possibility of good for us. It can drive us toward faith, it can increase our work to build relationships with friends and family, and it can get us to reevaluate how we’re living our lives.
Inuyashiki has an unusual event occur that changes his life, but had it not, would he have just cried away until he died three months later? Perhaps. And when you’ve been beaten down as long as it seems he has, and have lived life with such weak constitution for so long, getting out of that frame of mind becomes almost impossible. My hope for you all, though, dear readers, is that if you’re feeling unloved, you’ll respond in the way I mentioned previously, with gusto in trying to make change – even if that change is minor, even if it’s something simple, like reaching out to a friend, like reaching out to us here at Beneath the Tangles.
And if you’re not going through such, I hope you’ll look at those around you and know that many are hurting, and become a person who meets them where they are with love, to show them – if even a little – that people can care. After all, I think part of what makes us human is just that – our ability and the decisions we make to show altruism to and care for one another, and to let the hurting know: you are loved.
Inuyashiki is streaming on Amazon Prime, but note that I don’t necessarily recommend it. It seems like it could be a very thoughtful and entertaining series, but episode is violent and very, very dark, expressing another side of this series.