Updated: Jul 2, 2019
I remember when I was about 9 or 10 watching Evangelion (Nerd Alert) in suspended awe, my young mind trying to work out this dark nihilistic take on the human condition while opening my eyes to a kind of angst I had yet to experience. At the end of the show the main character sits and evaluates his life deciding if it's possible for people to ever really understand each other when they can barely understand themselves. So as the hero of the story, Shinji is handed the fate of humanity by being tasked to make THE choice between a heaven where all minds and souls are joined and therefore our complete understanding of each other takes away all the pain of existence (singularity anyone?) or to stay alive outside this garden of Eden, alone in our separated bodies, minds and souls forever yearning for deeper connection.
The main reason why I've been thinking about this today (Besides having re-watched some bits on Netflix this past weekend) is because I am upset about the end of a chapter in my life. A long chapter where I hold a lot of dear memories that now seem tainted by both the anger I feel and the sequence of events that got us here.
Part of me is feeling dumb and disheartened for being shocked by those who I thought I understood and genuinely loved. While the rational part of my brain keeps reminding me that all the good years and memories we had are not any less valid, which is also true. Our hearts are complicated and the kindness of understanding another person fully is difficult and sometimes even a toxic undertaking.
Spoilers: Shinji chooses the individual. He chooses separation.
Shinji's decision is ultimately based on the realization that what makes the human experience so special is our ability to love each other in spite of our flaws (that's my takeaway anyway.) But isn't it interesting that compassion, generosity and unconditional love cannot exist without the right kind of separation, boundaries and distance?