June 2nd, 2015: I don't quite know how or what to describe this entry as being like...but, it's just something that's been an idea of mine for awhile in wanting to do, to get out. Kind of a sense of a nostalgia trip with a bit of personal reflection, I guess one might describe it as being like. It's not going to sound very professional and maybe almost to the point of rambling...but that's what this is, essentially. I'll probably push this entry out of the way in a few days, but...yeah, this is what is currently inspiring me to write something. You're free to read this if you want to, but you don't have to either. In any case, it is my hope that maybe after reading this if you happen to, if you'd like to, it will help you to learn a little more about me. Maybe...just maybe, inspire you a little too. And if it does...that is a wonderful thing.
As I write this entry, I'm listening to the
Jolly Roger Bay [link]
theme from Super Mario 64
on loop, a game that hearkens back to my childhood but that world in particular holds a rather special meaning for me...a special place in my heart. It reminds me of my late cousin, a boy who within his all but too short of a life, left a major impact on my own. He was sadly taken from us back in the mid-1990s just about a week shy of his 8th or 9th birthday from a long battle with leukemia cancer. He himself had lost his dad, my uncle, a few years before that to an illness at a young age, early-to-mid-thirties I believe. I never got to know my uncle very well being the toddler age I was at, at the time. I am thankful to have spent whatever time I was given to spend with my cousin, and thankful I am able to remember small but still memorable moments with him. My aunt has since remarried a very genuinely wonderful man who has brought her much deserved happiness and treats my second uncle's kids as if they were her own. And her daughter, my late uncle's daughter and my late cousin's sister, have had quite close moments of our very own. However, even with these new circumstances, we all very much remember and cherish my first uncle and cousin very much and feel their presence in our lives on different occasions.
Getting back to the topic here, every time I hear that music from Jolly Roger Bay or even go into the world itself reminds me so much of my cousin. He absolutely loved the ocean and the sea life that inhabited it. My cousin loved Sea World, he loved watching the different fish and animals with his very own eyes. But what he loved the most, perhaps most iconically, was Shamu. He loved orcas and their majestic stature...the amazing behemoths that they've become known for being. Free Willy
was one of his favorite movies, a film about the befriending of a boy and a captive whale and his mission to return his seafaring friend to his true home. My late cousin used to have a plush orca named Shamu that was given to me after his passing and I kept in my safe possession for many years...even having childhood adventures with it along with other beloved stuffed animals before my cousin, his sister, one day asked me to return him to her and so I did. I associate the ocean so much with my cousin, and whenever I take trips with my family down the Jersey Shore I can't help but think of him. His bond with the ocean feels just as strong and personal as my own connection with it does.
Jumping into the Jolly Roger Bay painting, exploring the world in it, looking up at the misty dark sky above and listening to the echoes of the beautiful music all around me while swimming in the middle of the vast waters...it feels bittersweet. Even the dimly-lit hub room that contained the Jolly Roger Bay painting before Mario jumps into the painting itself evoked such feelings, just looking all around at the fish in the aquariums and seeing the painting in front of you. It reminds me that my cousin is no longer here in person...yet remains so much in my heart, mind, and in spirit. It recalls a time that once was that is no longer, but remains ever present through treasured memories. If my cousin had lived to see it, I feel as though Super Mario 64
would have been one of his favorite games and perhaps that very particular world being one of his own personal favorites. He loved games very much, often challenging my dad to levels of 2-player Super Mario Bros.
...in which my cousin's turns in these play sessions would often far outlast those of my his own as my dad fondly remembers. My cousin also loved the Sonic the Hedgehog
series, often playing competitive 2-player in Sonic the Hedgehog 2
with my other cousin, his sister, as I watched on by. The only catch: He had to always be Sonic, always. His sister was always Tails, always. It was always such a great time watching the two of them racing head to head together. After he passed away, awhile later, my aunt gave me his NES system along with his collection of games that went with it...and many of the games I remember having his name written on them in Sharpie marker. That was my first system I ever personally owned, even though I was familiar with the Atari before it that my dad had owned and let me play on a few party occasions at our house. I felt a strong connection with my cousin, whenever I would play any of his NES games that were given to me. They are no longer in my possession, but many fond memories were created from the hours of cherished gameplay from them.
This brings me to another point here. As it seems many are fully aware of, as much as I absolutely love Nintendo, I am also very much a fan of the Sonic
series. I may have never beaten a Sonic
game up until Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric
just recently, but I keep on buying and playing the games anyways. I've watched some of the cartoons here and there, and have made fan characters based on the series' style and elements. What might not be as well-known perhaps though...is that I have my cousin to thank for inspiring my love and enthusiasm for the series as a whole. He is the reason why I love Sonic and friends and his games so much. Much like the Blue Blur, my cousin was also a free spirit with a love for life and adventure...a boy with a passion for exploration...a zest for curiousity and many such things. Much like Sonic, my cousin also had a heart of gold that shone brightly to all those around him. Much like Sonic, someone who despite the odds or struggle of whatever came in the path, faced it bravely with determination and a will to never give up.
My cousin, he was always a winner. A person who prevailed through much with his hardships with his illness. Never complained, was always smiling and aiming to put smiles on all those around him. For being as young as he was...he handled so much a person should never ever have to face especially at that age with such stronghearted maturity and admirable courage. If he were here today...I guarantee he would continue to be as much a role model as he ever was during his time here on Earth. He would be hard-working, he would aim to make his dreams come true and try to be an uplifting presence for those around him. It is within that sense of being that he brought to those who knew him...myself included...such inspiration to live our lives similarly. As much as I've dealt with my own hardships in my life, it is within that sense of aiming to go on and keep going, to be a light in other peoples' lives should they so allow me to be, that I draw so much inspiration in my own life from his legacy. It is why I encourage those around me who are dealing with so much, who are facing tough times of their own, no matter what it may be and no matter what they may be thinking: Do not lose hope, do not give in. It's easier said than done, believe me. Everyone's lives are so different and so unique and yet...when it comes down to it, we all are not that much different from one another. We face trials that test us. Our strength, our resolve, our hope, our faith, our limits. Yet it is because of these trials that shape us into the people we become, that we aspire to be, to overcome them and spread that light of hope onto others in hopes they too can find their way out of the darkness. We are never truly alone no matter what it may feel like, and there will always be someone out there...whether they are close or far away...who will always be there for you. That concept may be interpreted in any way one wishes, whether it involves family or a friend or even a broader sense of a divine or spiritual way. There will always be someone there for you. I believe it important to never give up and keep trying no matter what the odds. It's not always easy to practice what one preaches especially in this department even for myself, but I truly and strongly believe it important to keep that message of hope and faith alive. I've struggled so much with depression and hardships over the years especially in recent years what with losing family and friends before their time including my mom that I've often tried to search...even demand...an answer for my life's purpose. And through so many of my own personal circumstances I feel as though while I may not have the full, bigger picture just yet if I ever even will...that at least through so much searching...that part of why I am here is to be a light for others when they need it most. To help others whenever I can, be it close to me or not. While I acknowledge I cannot realistically be there at all times...and I truly wish that was indeed possible, I will say that I certainly do try my best and yet can be better in different ways when it comes to that. And even during those times I cannot be in ways I wish I could be, I will always...and I cannot emphasize this enough...
always be there in many different other ways...even in spirit. That is at least a solid promise that I can make on that account. But getting back to it again, that's what I believe part of my broader purpose is about. For being there for others, showing them the goodness I see in them, and trying to help them see that for themselves. My cousin is but one of many who have shown me that and taught me that. Wonderful family, wonderful friends, the ones in my life who mean the most to me bring so much meaning to my life. Enduring the hard times, no matter what they may be, so that I may see and enjoy the great times...the moments both big and small and loving everything about them...even the little things. I've truly been blessed...and I have so many to thank for that including God Himself.
Thank you for sticking around long enough to read all this. It's just been something that's been on my mind for about a year or so, on and off really, and finally actually being able to reflect a bit on all of this. It all comes from the heart, directly from mine, and it feels good to be able to personally reflect. There will of course be times ahead when life again won't be so easy, but it's that message of hope...of not giving up...that strongly resonates with me that I hope to pass along to others and inspire them to do the very same.
And thanks for all the page views and favorites and comments! Without you guys, I definitely wouldn't be here right now.
I really appreciate all your support!