Thursday, December 7, 2017

Where The Light Shines Through

Steve Jobs' biography is an interesting read.

It is evident from page 1 to 656 that Walter Isaacson went above and beyond to present a fact based, accurate depiction of the Apple co-founder’s life.

The book is brutally honest.

I finally got around to reading it on a short weekend trip to Chennai. 

While I’m normally a non-annoying co passenger, my fellow patrons on the bus were often distracted by my loud exclamations. On many occasions, I found myself pausing and saying out loud things like - ‘No way, there’s no way he did that’.
In the end though I found Steve to be an interesting, complicated and controversial personality, all at the same time.

One thing I could not deny was his unfathomable passion for everything that he put his time and money into, it was palpable in every page of the book.
Whether it was him aggressively marketing Steve Wozniak’s circuit boards or pushing the Apple II’s team to the limits of exhaustion, his drive was incredible.

It is easy to see that he was not really motivated entirely by financial gain, I was moved when I read about an instance during the early days of Apple’s formation where Jobs cried after Wozniaks father accused him of trying to take advantage of his son.

After he was fired from Apple the first time, Steve founded another computer company-NeXT, the biggest surprise in the book came to me while reading the chapters detailing this phase of his life.

I had no clue that Steve Jobs owned Pixar at one time.

He bought it from George Lucas and invested 5 million dollars of his own money into it primarily because he was blown away by the innovation he saw at the company.

NeXT although ambitious was not successful and Steve was on the verge of bankruptcy, he had decent offers to sell off his stake in Pixar but he didn’t do it.
Pixar continued to lose money but innovation didn’t stop.

Everything changed when they made the world’s first fully animated movie about a bunch of toys that come to life at night.

Steve did eventually agree to a merger of the company with Disney, but terms of the the deal included a clause that put all creative aspects of production in the hands of the people at Pixar.

I’m not a very big fan of animated movies, but I love Pixar.

Over the years the studio has produced some great movies, films that combine state of art animation with stories that can stand up to any live action drama.

There is usually something to learn in all of these films, both for kids and adults.

Carl and Ellie in ‘Up’ taught us about lasting love, Woody, Buzz Lightyear and Andy continue to demonstrate what real friendship is like with the Toy Story franchise, and who would have thought that one of the best depictions of parental love in cinema would come from the same studio in the form of a story about 2 clownfish named Nemo and Marlin.
This blog is about another Oscar winning Pixar production.

'Inside out' is a fascinating movie for many reasons, I consider it one of the most innovative projects made in cinematic history.

Pete Docter redefined storytelling in animated movies through this feature.

The story revolves around a 11 year old girl named Riley, but the main protagonists are actually her emotions - Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust and Anger, 5 characters with 5 different personalities residing in her mind.

In the beginning most of Riley's memories are happy and ‘Joy’ dominates her emotions.

So 'Joy' is pretty much in charge of all her feelings.

'Sadness' is an unwanted emotion and the others kind of bully her all the time.

When Riley’s dad suffers some losses in his business he moves the family to San Francisco and that’s where her life changes signficantly.

With every bad experience 'Sadness' starts to grow and her happy memories begin to decline, naturally all the other emotions in her mind blame sadness for this untoward turn of events and isolate her even further.

On one particularly unfortunate occasion 'Joy' goes to the extent of trying to delete one of Riley’s bad memories and both ‘Joy’ and ‘Sadness’ get pulled into a maze of some kind and Riley is left with fear, disgust and anger to manage her feelings.

As one may expect this does not work out too well for her.

As Joy and Sadness navigate through the maze of Riley's memories they come across one incident that changes Joy's perception of Sadness for ever. 

More on that later.
I have written about my love for Switchfoot’s music many times in my blogs.

Jon Foreman is a modern-day poet and prophet.

Their latest album that came out in 2016 was called ‘Where the light shines through’. 

I didn't get the reason why the band chose 'Where the light shines through' as the name of their album, not even after listening to the titular song a bunch of times.

Then one cold Sunday afternoon while on another bus ride the song revealed itself to me.

Here are the lyrics from the chorus.

'Cause your scars shine like dark stars
Yeah, your wounds are where the light shines through
So let's go there, to that place where we sing these broken prayers where the light shines through
The wound is where the light shines through
Yeah, the wound is where the light shines through’

I once read somewhere that some of the nicest, most kind people in the world are the ones who have been treated very unfairly in life.

And I have actually found this to be true from my own experiences.

The first people to rush to your aid when you are in need of help and support are usually the ones who have suffered immensely in their own lives.

It is almost as if the light within them shines through the scars of their healed wounds.

Which brings me back to the movie

While Joy and Sadness are trying to find their way out of the maze in Rileys mind, they bump into a memory of a ice hockey game where she goes from being immensely sad to extremely happy after her friends and family rush to console her.

Thats when joy realizes that if not for sadness, empathy would be non existent.

If Riley's parents couldn't empathize with her sadness they wouldn't able to make her feel happy again.

Although all our pursuits in life are centered around our desire to be happy, sadness plays an important role in our lives too and we shouldn't fear it.

And if we can't keep it from coming our way, we should embrace it remembering that even sadness does not last forever and that our wounds are where the light shines through.

Until Next Time.