Deep Forest

Instead of doing a “current tunes” post, I thought I’d take a minute to talk about one song in particular, and that song is Fukai Mori (translation: Deep Forest) by Japanese band Do As Infinity.

Some folks may know this song as the 2nd ending theme for the anime Inuyasha, which is how I, as a young weeaboo back in the day where liking anime was “uncool”, came to know it as well. I actually started watching Inuyasha because I caught the ending theme on Adult Swim one day, and then watched entire episodes just to get to the ending so I could hear the song. Now I’m eagerly anticipating the sequel series slated to run this fall, but that’s another story entirely…

In 7th grade, the first thing I begged my mom to buy me on eBay was an Inuyasha soundtrack album so I could finally have Fukai Mori on CD. Within a couple of years, I owned three soundtrack CDs because I grew to love the entire musical library from the show all because of one song. It truly sparked my love of J-Pop music, and Do As Infinity remains one of my favorite bands. And to this day, Fukai Mori remains a stalwart presence on the soundtrack to my life.

I don’t know why it connects with me the way it does, but it stuck to me from the first time I heard it. It burrowed into my heart, and has inspired me in my lowest moments. At first, I didn’t understand the words – I’ve since read a translation, of course – but I could feel the song. It’s a song that will stay with me, if that makes any sense at all. It makes me think of the past – when I eagerly stayed up on Saturday nights to watch anime – and helps me feel hopeful for the future.

Does anyone else have a song like that – one that defines certain moments in their life, or attaches to them in some meaningful way?

Hope

As someone who works in the (n)ever-exciting, fast-paced realm of retail, I answer numerous customer questions every shift. These questions are often easy to answer, but occasionally, you get an adverse reaction. So, if a day is already going awry, I tend to regard approaching customers with a sense of dread looming over me.

During a stressful late shift last week, a little girl and her grandmother stopped me near the entrance of the store while I was the manager on duty. My specialties are more attuned to menswear, so I feared they would be asking me something about children’s clothing. But instead, the grandmother asked me if we had any scarves – not winter scarves, and preferably inexpensive, because the little girl needed if for a class presentation. She was going to be dressing up as someone she finds inspiring – her hero.

And the little girl, as if on cure, looked at me and said, “I’m dressing up like Malala Yousafzai.”

And I froze for a second. Because, really… that’s not the answer I was expecting. A little girl, with blue eyes and a blonde ponytail, living in a fairly conservative area, proudly declaring that her hero is Malala, and she needed the scarf to wear over her head. But as shocked as I was, once I took the time to absorb her words, one emotion overrode it.

Hope.

As chaotic as the world seems these days – a sort of discord and tension that can even be felt by children – this little girl made me hopeful that the next generation isn’t doomed to be lost. In a world where our leaders often fail to condemn hatred (and, in some cases, seem to condone it), and children can be easily swayed, hearing that little girl, over a decade younger than me, proclaim her admiration for Malala was inspiring. I did a similar project in sixth grade and I dressed up as Paul Revere, so this girl wiped the floor with me.

So I happily showed them our scarves, and when I passed them later on trying out a lovely blue floral one, I made sure to tell her that she looked great, and I hoped her presentation would go well. But though she thanked me for the compliment, I should have thanked her for showing me that there is hope to be found in the younger generation.