One of my favorite movies of all time is Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, a film I feel to be Miyazaki at the height of his game. Natasia and I watched it over the weekend and marveled at the storytelling, the incredibly imaginative scenery/visuals, and the beautiful ethic driving the film. Spirited Away was a movie I remember anticipating highly in high school. I listened Joe Hisaishi’s soundtrack months before the film had released in the US, and several of the numbers tug at my heart strings with more vigor than classical music mainstays.

Like any good work of art, so many interpretations and angles can be taken from the movie, but one particular theme that resonated with me was that of loneliness. Protagonist Chihiro struggles with loneliness: she’s an only child,  is in the process of moving at the beginning of the film, gets separated from her parents, gets isolated in the strange spirit world she finds herself, and [SPOILER ALERT] has to say goodbye to all the friends she’s made by the film’s end. However, she seems to resolve many of her initial loneliness issues by helping others confront theirs.

One of the most heart-warming things about the movie is the cast of outcasts who help her in spite of a world and culture that demands the contrary. Not all are kind to her, but they are genuine. My philosophy is ever-changing, but something that has changed was that most of us as individuals cannot do much to make sweeping changes to the world around us. However, we do exercise a great amount of power in the way we conduct ourselves in our everyday lives.

A little bit of kindness and respect go a long way in making the world a better place. While it’s easy and basic instinct to blame others for the bad in the world, it’s much harder to look within, acknowledge our own faults, and live our lives in a way that helps the people around us. I feel that many people–myself included–are too quick to assume the worst from others or be weary of the trustworthiness, generosity, and kindness of strangers. Yet when we allow the fear of having that trust betrayed rule our lives, we further isolate ourselves and feel ever more lonely.

I elect we stick together and be a positive influence in our community, no matter how big or small.