One of my favorite places in Milan is Starbucks Reserve. It’s not a normal Starbucks but a mix between a coffee shop and a roastery where you can drink a first-rate coffee blend. It is not the kind of place that I would have discovered on my own, and for this I have to thank my job that allowed me to write a story about it. And if there is one thing I love to mix with my coffee, that’s lo-fi. Holding a steaming cup of coffee in my hands while listening to lo-fi playlists is a ritual I indulge in every Sunday. It would be heaven on earth if it wasn’t for all the customers, but meeting lots of people is quite a high risk in Starbucks. It would be like complaining about the queue at McDonald’s.
On this particular day, with headphones ringing out the remixed openings of Dragonball in the Japanese version, I think back to my childhood and how similar I was to Goku as a kid: thoughtless, cheerful, combative, full of energy and stupid.
I can’t help but think that something must have gone wrong. I don’t have a bad life. I’d even be on the verge of saying that I like the life I’ve created for myself. Still, I can’t stop feeling like I’m living below my potential: I had something as a kid that, trauma after trauma, mixed with loneliness, may never come back.
I have tried many things: boxing, working hard like Elon Musk (or at least pretending), cultivating hobbies, friendships, relationships and so on. I’ve really put a lot of effort into this kind of stuff (even now all these activities take up a large part of my time) and my life has improved exponentially.
But this feeling still remains. Skipping even a workout, neglecting even for an hour my projects and small set backs that happen from time to time inevitably lead me to remember bad moments in my life that I could have avoided if I had been just a little stronger and smarte. I wonder how much more I can punish myslef for the mistakes I made in high school. It’s now been 8 years and I still use that stuff for motivation. It makes me survive but, at the same time, it consumes me. I am more present in the past than in the present (haha).
This brings me back to a quote from Godor, blacksmith of Berserk: “Hate is one of those places where people who can’t face sadness seek comfort. Seeking revenge is like sharpening a blade rusted by blood by immersing it in a pool of blood. To mend the blade of your heart rusted by sadness, you’re sinking it in blood. But the more you sharpen it, the more it rusts. And the more it rusts, the more you sharpen it. In the end, you’ll be left with just a handful of rust.”
I have no hatred and certainly I have no desire for revenge but I still feel that reliving those memories every day is rusting me. Maybe I think they motivate me but, probably, they are just slowly wearing me down. In a way, I am grateful I had those negative experiences. I am convinced that those who have seen the negative side of life can also be able to see the most beautiful one. However, this requires a lot of work, commitment and even a certain amount of delusion.
It’s one of the reasons I’ve always liked Goku: he always believes he can defeat the next opponent no matter what. He certainly isn’t gifted with intelligence and sometimes he should have run away (fortunately there are dragon balls) but his stubbornness led him to literally become a God. It is no coincidence that many shonen protagonists are so incompetent at the beginning ( Naruto, Luffy) are built on this model: they are essentially losers with a heart of gold united by the desire to become stronger and stronger. It wouldn’t be bad if I were more like them. However, as I said before, my life has improved over the years and this, in itself, is a small victory.