Credit: Mai Nguyen. Melbourne. June 27th, 2013.
Do you have any film, books, or anything that has changed you forever?
I have many. And one of the works that have altered me a lot is the Japanese TV drama “One Liter of Tears” (2005). Based on the published diary of Aya Kito, who had a rare, devastating and incurable disease which gradually destroyed her abilities to move and talk, the 11-episode drama explores her brave struggle against her disease, her journey to grow up, and many lessons she has learned throughout her life. As devastating and tragic as the story can be, the message of the drama is very optimistic, uplifting and inspiring. It’s about never giving up, never losing hope, and never thinking that you have no worth and no reason to live. It’s about facing your struggle, learning through your struggle, and appreciating every moment that you have in your life.
‘One Liter of Tears’ is not the first TV series I watched which featured a main character with an incurable disease. But it was the first series which did not try to compel me to cry out of pity for the main character, just as many shows tend to do. Though I did cry several times in the show , it was not necessary because I felt sympathetic to the fact that she got a devastating disease, but rather because I admired her courage, her insightful observation, and especially her positive attitude to life. She has inspired me greatly, especially the way she looks at life. After I watched the show 6 years ago, my 14-year-old self, which was angsty, gloomy and rebellious at the time, realised that I should cease my endless complaints and understand that challenges and hardships are not always bad. They are there so that we can learn and appreciate life more. Just as nights make known days, black makes known white, darkness makes known light, Aya’s hardships enable her to grow up, mature and write down things that hardly any person of her age can do. Aya’s life might not be long, satisfactory and ‘fulfilled’, but it is inspiring and meaningful.
I am already 20. Yet, I have still held every lesson that I have gained from ‘One Litre of Tears’ in my heart. I still agree with Aya’s attitude to life, just as I still aspire to become strong, courageous and positive like her. That’s why I don’t pray that I will lead a wealthy, happy and comfortable life. Rather, I pray that I will be resilient, strong and patient at calamities. After all, that’s what God wants to see from us: not how much money we earn, or how many awards we make, but how many ‘good deeds’ we have done, how patient and grateful we have been, and how sincere we are in our submission to Him.
“Don’t worry, even if you fall over! It’s all right. You can just pick yourself up again!
When you fall over, make the most of the chance to look up and see the sky.
You will see the blue sky spreading endlessly above you and smiling down.
Aya, you are alive!”
― Aya Kito, 1 Litre of Tears