Continuing our delve into Turning Red…
The second shows up full force in one of the quietest yet most pivotal scenes in the movie, when Jin speaks to Mei in her room, just before the ritual:
“People have all kinds of sides to them. And some sides are messy. The point isn’t to push the bad stuff away. It’s to make room for it, live with it.”
The scene’s very understatedness highlights the profound peacefulness in what Jin is creating about recognizing, and for sure, integrating ourselves. Our whole selves. It isn’t about resisting our messy bits, nor, crucially, is it about yielding to them either. It isn’t about good/bad, right/wrong, being broken, or whatever – remember that resistance equals persistence. Instead, it is about acknowledging, being present to, and simply being with them all.
When we recognize that we all have many aspects to ourselves we gain both peace of mind and power. This is reflected in Mei’s own quote from the start of the movie: ”If you take it too far, well, you might forget to honour yourself.” Indeed… if we yield to the messy self then we are not honouring ourselves. If we instead resist it and push it away and fight it and make it wrong, we still are not honouring ourselves. Integration, and being whole, is about recognizing all our bits, engaging with them, and doing the work needed to make them part of us such that we harness them towards productive ends. By recognizing all our sides we remove the hooks that hijack our expression. We gain freedom to be, freedom to choose, and it allows our authentic self to shine through.
The moment in the astral realm with the mirror, Mei remembers her time with the panda. Crucially, she does not only remember the good times but also the not so good. And she realizes, hey, welcome to being human. That is when Mei chooses to cease to resist it, and why Mei also doesn’t just give into it. She embraces it (and her fluffy tail when she returns to the ritual circle) and thus learns how to control it… well enough to even enable amazing double-jump capabilities.
As Mei invites us at the end of the movie, integration has a wonderous power. We can blend and create ourselves and grow. We can let go of controlling others. And we can embrace our pandas (our wonderful, fluffy, bouncy panda!) while allowing for the pandas of those around us, allowing for glorious and authentic self-expression.
* Just a quick note that I added another end note to last week’s post, which I’ll also repost here: This idea and theme of synthesis also plays out beautifully in the movie when the old school chanting is joined by, and musically merges perfectly with, 4*Town’s Nobody Like U…