Stop me if you’ve heard this one: Once upon a time, th…
Oh. Okay. You’ve heard that one? Yeah… I thought so.
My next question: how does it end? Right. “…and they all lived happily ever after”. Cue sunset/rainbows/whatever else symbolises everlasting victory and joy. Roll credits.
We’ve become accustomed to the happy ending (to the point where there’s a Wikipedia page about it). As far back as Shakespeare, it’s what separated comedy from tragedy; Antonio and Portia are allowed happily ever after, while Romeo and Juliet… well, you’ve heard that one, too.
We love happy endings. In 1937, Snow White got to live happily ever after, and Walt Disney made it his job to perpetuate that idea ad infinitum. Even if Disney has given up on fairy tales, their films still get the happy ending (I can speak to this directly, as I recently saw Wreck-It Ralph; I recommend everyone do the same).
These movies speak to my inner child, because I was raised with—and like to believe I still harbour—that dreaming, optimistic spirit. I was told I could be whatever I wanted when I grew up (I’m still holding out hope for a Tyrannosaurus Rex). Back then, I thought about my future like the ending of a feel-good movie: a scene with the sunset/victory/etc. and the credits roll.
|Zombies: there like a metaphor or something...|
But as I grew up, I discovered this concept of media trying to examine what happens when “the camera stops rolling”. Take, for a popular example, The Walking Dead, a graphic graphic novel about survivors of a zombie apocalypse. (Alright. Yes, I understand that TWD is technically a comic book, but I couldn’t pass up the wordplay.) The author, Robert Kirkman, said his inspiration was to tell the story of what happens after the Romero movie ends.
Nearing the end of my Peace Corps service, I find myself asking a similar question… What would a zombie apocalypse look like in China, and could I survive in it? After reading The Zombie Survival Guide, I am sure I’d fair pretty well, but that’s not the question I meant…
What happens now that I’ve lived through my happily ever after?
I know I’ve talked about this before, but Peace Corps was what I always wanted to do, so I’m left thinking: now what? I can’t roll credits and end the movie now.
I guess it’s time to grow up? My life’s no movie. There’s no happy ending. It is time to change the nomenclature, because there are goals, there are achievements, and when you reach one, it’s time to begin work on another. That’s how life works, right?
I can accept that. But the fear I can’t shake is still what comes next. Real talk: very rarely are sequels better than the original. For every Empire Strikes Back and Gremlins 2, there are thirty sequels that ruin any goodwill the original may have had. Unless Vanilla Ice is going to pen a song for my post-PC life, I just don’t know what to do…
As much as I want to end this post on a Ninja Turtles reference, I imagine some of you are calling me a liar. It better not be because of Gremlins 2, because no joke, it is the best. If you are calling my bluff, it should be because in the paragraph immediately following my proclamation that I accept life ≠ Hollywood magic, I am back to using the metaphor.
So seriously, what happens?