So, first let me say that I am a man in the traditional sense and have no qualms or questions in my masculinity. I’m big, I’m tough, and I have a good deal of facial and body hair. I smell like a man, talk like a man, and even fart in an open room just because I can. All of these things solidly define me, as what people would say is manly. Second, in reference to the first part of this statement let me say this…today at work I cried like a baby. I spilled tears much like a levy bursting forth due to heavy rainfall. My noise ran, calling attention to my tears as I tired to sniff up the running green goop set loose by my teary build up. In short form, I wept openly.
Not that crying is unmanly, but because we are still bound as a society by the rough guy stereotype of the 1950’s it is not commonplace. The question you might have is what caused a manly man like myself to emotionally fall apart enough to weep openly? The answer is simple, a comic depicting a story from the new Avatar series. If you are aware of what Avatar is (not the James Cameron blue cat people movie), then you can most likely skip this section. If you are unaware of Avatar then I may just cry a bit for your lack of understanding, but will only give a quick explanation.
Avatar created by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. The series aired between 2005 and 2008 on the Nickelodeon networks. The story itself was about a world where people moved or bended the four elements air, earth, fire and water. They did this by moving their bodies and hands much like the classic martial arts styles originated by shaolin monks in early China. The main character was a young boy named Aang, who was the last air bender after spending a hundred years sleeping in ice. He also was the last Avatar, which is a person reincarnated each generation and has the ablity to bend all four elements. Aang traveled the world with his friends Katara and Zuko learning the other bending forms so that he could save the world from the oppression of the fire nation. Aang eventually saved the world and fell in love with Katara his water-bending teacher.
As a whole, Avatar was a beautifully fascinating series that was great for both kids and adults alike. For those that did watch all or at least most of it, you can speak of chakras and a good deal of us will imagine the explain of water moving through pools given to Aang. But moving on the whole point to my explanation is that for there to be a new Avatar the old one must pass on and rejoin the collective memories and wisdom inherited in the new incarnation of the Avatar. In the sequel to the original Avatar series The Legend of Kora, there is a new Avatar and the old one, Aang, has passed on. The comic, which made me, cry was a memory told by Kora being taught by her water bending master Katara. Now, you might have made the connection, the new Avatar (Kora) is being taught by the old Avatar’s love. The comic was beautifully simple but epically sad at the end. To view it for yourself click the link below:
Now after reading my breakdown and the comic are you too now tear bending? If not that is okay, but you may want to check that you have a pulse because obviously you are lacking a heart YOU MONSTER! No, sorry that was out of line and I apologies, but seriously YOU MONSTER! The point I am getting at is the Avatar series was written with the colorful happy presentation for children to enjoy and with a deeply poetic meaning running through its core for adults. I can honestly see myself watching this with my kids (if I had any). At the end of the show they are happy and trying to bend the table with their fists. Me, I’m moved by the understanding that you don’t have to know the purpose only know that there can be balance in everything. (I also might be trying to bend the table).
With the creation of an after story kids who did not watch the first one would not get the comic more than the face value of having someone that loves you enough to be with you everyday. For the adults and kids that have watched the first series th understanding that comes from change is enormous. The last air bender Aang is now gone and those that loved him and taught him will have to watch his successor go through some of the trials he did. The huge cycle of life and death with the understanding that it will always be in balance should be something respected, especially from a simple cartoon.
Now that we have spent some time tear bending maybe its time we move on to the other things. If anything take this from what I have written, that just because it’s a cartoon does not mean it cannot teach you what it is to be human. Also crying is a human action, not a womanly or manly action.
(Please note that when I first starting writing this I stopped and came back to it several weeks later. I opened the comic again to remind myself of the message and sure enough I bent tears again.)