My friends – people who actually know me personally and have had any kind of conversation with me that goes beyond the nonsense I post on my Instagram story – can all attest to the fact that I have a “metaphysical” mindset, for lack of a better word.

I’m always talking about energy, vibrations, my blocked chakras, the current phase of the moon, and other things that upset and confuse some of my more scientifically-minded friends (you know who you are).

But I also think a lot about love and positivity and the impacts they can have on the individual, on society, and on the planet.

I’m a closeted hippie, if you will, but a low-key one. I only dabble in veganism, but I wouldn’t be comfortable calling myself an actual vegan at this point. I don’t drink enough water, and I don’t really know how to recycle. I’m not so zen that people don’t irritate me. Right now, I’m annoyed by how loudly the barista at this Starbucks is talking to his co-workers. I think he actually wants people to overhear his conversations and be impressed by his social-justice-laden criticisms of the Dark Phoenix movie, the latest and last film in the X-Men franchise.

Bleh, I’m not impressed. Just annoyed.

But speaking of Dark Phoenix

Well, I can’t really speak on that movie because I haven’t seen it. I love my superhero movies, but sadly (and it is actually sad for me), I haven’t been inclined to watch the most recent X-Men flick. I didn’t even watch the one preceding it.

It’s sad because the X-Men are so cool, but the franchise’s movies have been inconsistent, at best. With such an impressive docket of mutants to draw upon, these movies should be gold.

Seriously, why can’t we just get a good Gambit, complete with the unruly hair and adorable Cajun accent? You know – the Gambit we all know and love from the animated series, which for some reason, is still one of the best X-Men adaptations?

Dark Phoenix, a movie that was practically doomed before it even hit theaters (more than a year late, by the way), hasn’t received great reviews. It’s predicted to lose millions of dollars at the box office, and overall, it’s been generally regarded as a dumb and lackluster ending to a saga that’s spanned the better part of two decades.

After the disappointing Game of Thrones finale – the entire final season, not just the final episode – the world of fiction and fantasy seems to have suffered at the hands of bad writing, poor character development, plot holes, unanswered questions, the infringing real-life social and political climate (which I don’t think is always a bad thing), budgetary issues, etc. etc. I could go on, I’m sure.

Once Game of Thrones ended, actress Sophie Turner, who also is the “star” of Dark Phoenix, had some words for the critics. For the record, the criticisms never really seemed to surround the actors themselves. Without pulling the actual quote, she basically said that people were being mean by criticizing the finale because so many people worked really hard on it.

So…you want an A for effort?

Nope.

The Game of Thrones ending was upsetting for millions of people, to the point that many of us, myself included, took how bad it was personally.

No, Sophie Turner. It was disrespectful to all of the fans who had dedicated ten years to this show to end it so horribly. And how hard did you all actually try when coffee cops and water bottles are making cameos in not one, but two separate episodes?

For a show that started off so strongly that it literally taught us all how to be better viewers, the writers let us down in spectacular fashion.

I didn’t even cry in the final episode, which is ridiculous and frankly, unacceptable. I watched that Always Be My Maybe movie the other day, a rom-com starring Ali Wong and Randall Park, and I cried…a few times.

For a show that I cherished, loved, and invested chunks of my life into, I should have been significantly more distraught than I was once it ended. Rather, I was ready to get it over with. The show had let me down, and as with most things and people who let me down, I was done with it.

Moving on.

As with anything, though, there will always be those who don’t understand why a bad ending to a television show or movie franchise so deeply affects others.

“It’s not even real.”

THANKS FOR POINTING THAT OUT. WE HAD NO IDEA.

Empathy is a real thing, though, and while these characters are fictional and their powers are oftentimes (but not always) fantastical, people can see themselves in them. There are still laws of humanity that govern the characters and drive the plot lines.

The reason we love these shows and movies is because they, as a whole, serve as a narrative mirror for us to see ourselves in. The story lines are always, in some way, shape, or form, applicable to our own lives and circumstances. We watch superheroes fight evil villains, face the depths of despair, suffer devastating and sometimes personal losses, and then still, in spite of everything, find hope where there once seemed to be none, and triumph over the bad guy and his cronies.

They give us hope.

That’s it. That’s why we love them. No matter how unrealistic the world they live in or the people/creatures they meet might be, the humanity within them is what saves the day. They give us something to believe in, really.

Yes, quantum blasts would be helpful, but you would still need someone to harness and wield that energy.

I’m talking about Marvel, now.

Avengers: Endgame also came out recently, at around the same time that Game of Thrones was ending. In fact, I think I watched Endgame one night, all of Lord of the Rings the following day (the extended editions, of course), and then the Battle of Winterfell a day or two later.

What a weekend that was. I don’t know why I did that to myself.

Anyway, for as much of a disaster as Game of Thrones’ and X-Men’s endings were, Endgame was a masterpiece, in my (maybe not-so) humble opinion.

I won’t get into all of the reasons it was so impressive, because they are plentiful, but I cried throughout this entire movie. Sometimes they were tears of despair, sometimes of happiness and excitement; there were tears of shock, disbelief, heartache, love…

And tears of hope.

Look, I’m crying right now thinking about it all.

You guys – He was on his left!

Maybe you all didn’t cry as often as I did, but for those of you who watched all of the movies like I have, I know you felt some semblance of what I did. The callbacks were in there for fan service (which we wanted and deserved), the plot lines that had been introduced were, more or less, addressed and wrapped up, the character’s arcs made narrative sense (looking directly at you, Jaime Lannister), and even the villain was someone you could sympathize with.

Without giving away any spoilers that aren’t completely obvious to begin with, it didn’t end well for the Avengers in Infinity War, which came (chronologically) before Endgame. However, through literal hope and perseverance, while dealing with both their physical and psychological losses, and after taking into account the overwhelming adversity they’d be facing should they essentially challenge the villain to a rematch with significantly less resources and manpower than they had the first go-round, they defeated Thanos.

The world wasn’t exactly as it had been before, but its future was bright and protected.

Could the Avengers have sat around, wallowing in their despair? Could they have decided that what they had lost was gone forever and do their best to move on with their now emptier lives in what was left of their planet? Could they have succumbed to depression and self-doubt, unable to move against similar villains and adversities for fear of being defeated?

Could they have blamed their inaction on Trump and determine that no progress could or would be made while he was in office?

Or was the fate of the world and its people too great a treasure to simply be sacrificed in the name of hopelessness?

The suffering that Thanos inflicted on our planet in Infinity War was something we all felt (in the fictional world, of course). It didn’t matter what country we were from, what political party, religious group, or class we were a part of, or where we stood on certain political or social issues. It didn’t matter how important or inconsequential we were in terms of global affairs, and it didn’t matter whether or not we believed that Thanos was a real threat.

We were all affected in the same way and equally susceptible to the consequences of losing the battle against a truly common enemy.

Game of Thrones, on the other hand – who was the final enemy? The White Walkers? Cersei? Dany? Ugh.

Anyway, an adage holds that nothing unites people quite like a common enemy, and climate change as the result of manmade global warming is as common an enemy as I’ve ever seen. I was recently reading an article on VICE.com, of all places, that discussed this a bit, and they touched on some things I’ve always believed.

The general point of the article was that all is not lost, despite projections and predictions that our planet and the life living upon it won’t last another 20 or 30 years. Moreover, there is nothing productive or helpful in sowing hopelessness and feelings of doom.

Things look dire, I’m not gonna lie. Everywhere you look, you read articles about how everything is so much worse than previously thought. Our oceans are sick, our trees are dying, our natural barriers and protections are actively and knowingly being destroyed, our animals are suffering needlessly, and everything from the air we breathe to the vegetables we consume are contaminated with something or other.

But, there is hope in the fact that we are, as is our planet, resilient beyond expectation.

Everyone’s been watching the Chernobyl show on Netflix lately. I haven’t watched it yet, but Chernobyl, despite the fact that it was obviously a disaster that inflicted irrevocable destruction, is kind of a story of hope.

Let me explain.

I learned about Chernobyl for the first time, I believe, in my 8th grade science class. At the time of the incident, people thought the land was dead. It had been destroyed beyond repair, destroyed beyond the point where it would ever be able to sustain life again.

Today, just over 30 years after the nuclear power plant exploded, life is thriving in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, or the CEZ.

People have mostly abandoned the area and the animals have moved in.

Big animals, too. Horses, moose, bison (my favorite), raccoon dogs (so cute!), birds – all kinds of animals. The CEZ, which spans portions of Ukraine and Belarus, has become one of the earth’s largest animal sanctuaries.

Are the animals suffering from radiation poisoning? Perhaps. But is it enough to stifle the proliferation of these species? Apparently not.

The abundance and success of these species begs the question – which is the bigger threat to these animal communities, the nuclear waste that exists in the soil or the people that may one day move back into the space?

Life will find a way. We are strong and adaptable. The nature that surrounds us; the nature that we are a part of; the nature that we live within, not just with – is persistent and perseverant.

There is hope in the Chernobyl explosion.

There is hope every time a volcano erupts and covers the earth in fertile ash.

There is hope in the fact that humanity has faced existential threats in the past and overcome them.

If hope is the first step towards action, then I’m going to do my best to spread it. If we’re all energetically, cosmically, and spiritually connected, then I’ll do my best to live that life, for the sake of life itself. If writing this is my small form of spreading love and light, then I guess that’s what I’m here to do.

We can’t all be Captain America, but we don’t have to be to make a difference.

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