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Monday, 2 January 2012

「When Heaven Burns」(TVB Drama) ... and the meaning of true friendship

And so last night was the final episode of this drama series I've been following... and it really is a touching story. It's so engaging, and really makes you truly think "So who are my true friends?" "Am I really who I want to be?".

For those who don't know the series and the plot, I'll explain briefly.

The plot is around the lives of a group of 5 friends; 4 of which are young men in a rock band and a girl. These young adults have grown extremely close to each other through experiencing the rough tides of life, society, and aspiring to keep music alive together. No matter what happened, this quintet of friends have an unbreakable, undoubting friendship... a bond.

However the boys become stranded on a snow mountain during a camping trip, all anticipating death from starvation and hypothermia. The boys: Angus (guitarist), Ronnie (bassist), 'Drummerman' and Ka Ming were about to die, until the idea dawned upon the fact that Ka Ming was inches away from death (he was in the worst condition) and the only way for them to survive was to resort to cannibalism. Ka Ming's life was sacrificed.

Undoubtedly, these young men held guilty consciences that played with their minds for years after, resulting from having to prey on their closest friend, and also the boyfriend of Hazel (Chinese name Yan), the close girl friend of theirs.

The story continues about the lives of the remaining four friends ten years later (the band had disbanded), how each and everyone of them felt guilt, denial, anger and regret threatening their friendships and sanity. How it drove them mad, how guilt made you find excuses for what you did, slowly picking away at values and the friendship. Of course, Hazel couldn't find it in herself to forgive her three friends. And each of the guys dealt with the trauma differently; Ronnie fought with depression, Angus focused on his career using immoral methods and Drummerman was so desperate to earn a name, make an achievement (to cover his guilt) he would betray everyone, his friends and his wife.

Hazel is a Radio DJ (a radio host) and uses her show to express her thoughts about life, music etc and frequently took to alcohol as a way to escape from the real world, her loneliness and anger. She was a passionate lover of music, particularly rock and indie music, using her career to promote indie bands and encourage music lovers.

Numerous events happened as part of the drama including extreme cases of betrayal and violence, but the story ends on how music (namely, their band and the friendship it brought) brought them back to sanity and how Hazel finally forgave her friends after hearing a documentary on TV explain how Polar bears were consuming their own offspring in order to survive (starvation, destroyed habitats, greenhouse effects). She realises that it was human nature, or natural to resort to these extreme measures when faced with death and the need with survival. And at the very end, she herself spent time alone camped out on the snow mountain in attempt to experience what her friends may have felt, deserted and alone in the wild.

The moral of the show, although much of the plot was based around Rock (n Roll) attitude and music, was the idea of individuality and respect between people.
The audience of the rock fest that Hazel organised, she explained, wasn't a group of people who are the same, but a group of individuals, of different values, beliefs and opinions/tastes living in harmony together, respecting differences between them and gathering together to enjoy what they have (the rock fest, life... etc). They are together because they have ONLY one thing in common, respect (and the appreciation for the music).

And that is what I find meaningful. Ronnie in the drama said that one cannot expect anyone, even friends to understand one's actions. Everyone has different reasons for their actions, and different ways in dealing with matters. And these actions may or may not threaten their closest friends too, but it may be inevitable/unavoidable. However, although you may not understand and you may not agree with their action, a true friend will respect their choice and the outcome. And a true friend will respect it enough to forgive and not hold grudges (eventually?).

That's what is powerful about this drama.. the fact that it acknowledges (contrary to common thought) that a group of friends may not be of similar 'type' of people. And that the drama encourages one to be honest, faithful, trusting and respectful. Things that are lacking in many of those around us, including ourselves. And to remember that we are all individuals; unique people who should not be bound to societal values, beliefs or culture - similar to the 'Rock Attitude' (and thus this is why the music aspect and the friendship aspect are related).

Being honest to ourselves 'Are we doing the right thing? Is this truly what I want to do? Is it at the expense of others, the innocent?'

Trusting your friends and people around you and not losing faith in yourself or them, even when the path ahead is blurred, nonexistent or even taking a sharp change in direction.

And of course, respect... Respecting others choices, differences, and especially when they realise they've made wrong choices. The latter being important as it happens to all of us, and in addition to our own guilt and conscience, disrespect from those closest to us makes it much more difficult to improve, learn the lesson and forgive ourselves. Sometimes distrust, disrespect and hatred from others can cause one to take an extreme wrong turning in attempt to make oneself feel better, due to denial, self hate etc.
So respect from others is very valuable. And people, especially friends should respect each other more in this world.

So the mottos from the drama goes something like this:

"Without a past, one has no future" (Hazel's motto) 
- We all have our past, but it only means we are given a chance to achieve more in the future, so do not dwell in the past wrongs.

"True friends are those with a strong respect for each others differences in values, beliefs and actions. Respect each persons individuality and live in harmony."

I'm not sure if you out there understood all this or if I made any sense, but the drama was very touching having seen the betrayal and the hurt they all went through trying to disguise, overcome and forget the traumatic event and eventually each one of them became enlightened and forgave themselves and others, reinstating their friendship.

It's just food for thought and it makes us wonder who are our true friends who stick by us through arguments, hard times and breakups as well as the good times, and how we treat the people around us. We may understand them, but do we respect them? Are we honest to others and most importantly ourselves? Do we admit our wrongs and endeavour to put them right? Are we too afraid to correct our wrongs if it means to lose face? Are we afraid to be different, and why? Is there anything we can improve?

And lastly... what holds the bond between you and your friends/loved ones? (Music? Other Hobbies?)

Make the most of your life.. by being the 'you' you aspire to be, constantly improving yourself and respecting others.

PS. The main protagonist of the series, the rocker radio DJ Hazel, has the same name (as well as Chinese name) as me! Which is rather uncanny (*^.~*) And she seems to have a leather jacket obsession like I do. *giggles*

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