I got to watch one of my favourite animated films of all time again today on the Disney Channel.

There are two scenes which especially stood out for me ~

This scene is simply beautiful. It’s amazing how without any dialogue at all, just the same progression of notes and chords can produce emotions ranging from the happy and joyful to the sad and pitiful. It’s probably the combination of rhythm, dynamics, the leaving out of certain notes in a chord to make it sound less full and conveying that sense of emptiness in Carl’s heart when his wife is gone, and definitely a lot of emotion and care by the animators themselves that produced this truly wonderful work of art. It really is one of my favourite scenes of all time and just further proves that the genius artists at Pixar are producing insanely great work, and that Steve would have been immensely proud of them. He was very, actually. The track, which they repeatedly play and remix accordingly throughout the film, is called Married Life.

The next scene is no less beautiful, showing photographs and memories of the times Carl and Ellie shared, but all the more revealing and insightful even, containing many life lessons to be learnt. At this point of time, Carl has achieved what he set out to do from the very beginning – to travel to and have his home situated right next to Paradise Falls. However, he doesn’t feel satisfied, not as satisfied as he felt he would be. Truth is, when he flips through the book of memories with Ellie, his late wife, he realises that getting to Paradise Falls didn’t matter that much after all. It wasn’t the end that actually mattered; what he really treasured and enjoyed were the daily adventures with Ellie, be it saving up for their trip to Paradise Falls, or ending up using those savings instead to repair a roof or replace a flat tyre. The journey, it turns out, was the reward. Not the end. Life isn’t always about getting to the end. And that journey ended when Ellie passed away, and the house is, as Carl puts it, is ‘just a house’. It didn’t matter anymore whether the house managed to end up situated beside Paradise Falls, as the true reward was the journey through life with Ellie. And that’s the way life is, so we might as well enjoy the ride.

I’ve been reminded recently how fragile life is, and it’s a real reminder to how we all live our life. We take things, people, for granted, we worry about tomorrow, the future, and we regret. We don’t live in the present, we take each passing moment with friends and people as part of the usual routine, and we complain and grumble about daily grievances, such as school or work. We should really be giving thanks for all that we have, every friend that we know and love, people we meet and pass on the street, the music we hear passing by street buskers, the morning sun and air we sometimes forget to notice, and just about every passing moment of our precious lives. Maybe that’s why I’m trying to focus more on the arts now, as the arts is really the thing that requires all of your senses and emotions, and is when your mind is the most resonant with what your senses are feeding it, and hence, when you are fully alive.

I’ve been reading a Bible reading plan for the past week or so entitled ‘Toward a Fearless New Year’, and one day’s message really spoke to me on how we should be thinking about fear and anxiety.

Nine Promises for Battling Anxiety

1. When I am anxious about some risky new venture or meeting, I battle unbelief with the promise: “Fear not for I am with you, be not dismayed for I am your God; I will help you, I will strengthen you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
2. When I am anxious about my ministry being useless and empty, I fight unbelief with the promise, “So shall my word that goes forth from my mouth; it will not come back to me empty but accomplish that which I purpose, and prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).
3. When I am anxious about being too weak to do my work, I battle unbelief with the promise of Christ, “My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9), and “As your days so shall your strength be” (Deuteronomy 33:25).
4. When I am anxious about decisions I have to make about the future, I battle unbelief with the promise, “I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you” (Psalm 32:8).
5. When I am anxious about facing opponents, I battle unbelief with the promise, “If God is for us who can be against us!” (Romans 8:31).
6. When I am anxious about being sick, I battle unbelief with the promise that “tribulation works patience, and patience approved-ness, and approved-ness hope, and hope does not make us ashamed” (Romans 5:3–5).
7. When I am anxious about getting old, I battle unbelief with the promise, “Even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save” (Isaiah 46:4).
8. When I am anxious about dying, I battle unbelief with the promise that “none of us lives to himself and none of us dies to himself; if we live we live to the Lord and if we die we die to the Lord. So whether we live or die we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and rose again: that he might be Lord both of the dead and the living” (Romans 14:8–9).
9. When I am anxious that I may make shipwreck of faith and fall away from God, I battle unbelief with the promise, “He who began a good work in you will complete it unto the day of Christ” (Philippians 1:6). “He who calls you is faithful. He will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:23). “He is able for all time to save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25).

Knowing all these just keeps me feeling relieved and blessed, and determined to make the new year count, not by any external expectations or rewards, but by truly living and being thankful for all I have, and just enjoying the ride, for that in itself is its true reward.

The journey is the reward