Opinion: Joy Is Revolutionary

The author, Dallas senior Juan G. Rodriguez, points at the DVD menu screen for “Puss In Boots: The Last Wish” in his dorm room. Films like these spark joy in Rodriguez, particularly in the midst of depressive episodes (Photo illustration by Juan G. Rodriguez).

Content Warning: “Puss In Boots: The Last Wish,” spoilers abound.

I haven’t been having the best semester so far. In truth, as much as there’s been good adorning my days, I’ve had my fair share of bad. Week three was particularly atrocious though; something about a week-long depressive episode ruins an otherwise good time, you know?

I entered week four pulling myself out of a nosedive. Between room consolidation and being short on units for graduation, I felt like I was being squeezed like an orange in a hydraulic press. 

Steadily though, my spirits have been climbing and I feel myself leveling out at last, even if those two things are weighing heavy on my mind. To really ease myself back into a joyful mood I capped off Wednesday night by rewatching my favorite movie of all time: “Puss In Boots: The Last Wish.”

I come back to this movie for a lot of reasons. I’ve watched it so many times with so many of my friends, I’m enamored with it as a piece of modern animation and storytelling and I still can’t get its core message out of my head.

There’s no forgetting the last confrontation Puss has with the Wolf, Death himself; for the entirety of the film, Puss runs from Death as he chases after the titular Last Wish, found within a magical wishing star, to reset his total number of lives back to nine. 

The Wolf finds Puss at the end of the film, wish within reach. As he urges Puss to pick up his sword – the one Puss left behind after their first confrontation – scenes from this last life, this current adventure, flash before Puss’s eyes.

“What’s the matter? Lives flashing before your eyes?” the Wolf asks.

“No. Just one,” Puss responds. “I’m done running.” 

He drops the map that had led him and his group to the wishing star and picks up his sword once more: 

“Fear me, if you dare!”

What follows is the best animated fight scene I have ever seen and most likely will see; one where Puss fights for his last life and eventually disarms Death.

“Pick it up,” Puss says as he kicks one of the Wolf’s scythes back. “I know I can never defeat you Lobo, but I will never stop fighting for this life.”

Puss ends the film at ease with his ninth life being the last one he lives. With his loved ones by his side, they sail off into the sunset together. 

I like thinking that as they go on their way, they’re all content with the company they’ve chosen, assured of their choice to place their faith in each other. In doing so, I imagine that they feel a sense of ease.

Life is hard; there are days when living takes effort. The fight to see the day through is long and the hits come in hard, but you’re somehow able to find the strength to keep at it. Having friends by your side definitely makes things easier.

I’m lucky in that I know and have found methods to sustain myself; I go for walks in the nature center, try to eat food that I like and spend time with my loved ones. These sorts of things keep me in the fight, they soften the hits and make the bruising worth it. 

That’s what I turn to on the easier days when I don’t have to put up as much of a fight and can instead devote myself to enjoying my limited time on this earth. 

There’s joy to be had in that. Quite frankly, so long as happiness doesn’t come about at the expense of another, everyone is deserving of experiencing that sort of emotion.

Joy is revolutionary. The world’s miserable enough as is and it’s gonna try to put out your warmth. There’s a storm raging on that’s trying to put out the campfire you built for yourself; if you’re not trying to keep it dry and wind-proof, then there’s no doubt as to whether it’ll last you or not.

Come daybreak, there won’t be anything but wet ashes left.

About Juan G. Rodriguez 45 Articles
Juan G. Rodriguez is a senior sharing his time between Dallas and East Texas. He is majoring in English and minoring in Political Science. As an individual with two pencil leads in his left knee, writing seems to be the only career that Juan is capable of. Contact Juan via jgr13@albion.edu.

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