The general consensus is that when one loves another, the feeling of deep affection and devotion comes with an acceptance of any flaws or imperfections that the other party may possess. It’s also conventionally agreed upon that one must compromise or potentially “give up” certain aspects of their solitary life when they enter or try to sustain a romantic relationship. The idea is that the affinity one has for the person that they love outweighs their own selfish desires. However, what if that’s not exactly what their partner had in mind?
In Mushishi episode eight, “Where Sea Meets Man,” Ginko comes across a man who has lost his wife to a strange phenomenon while at sea. Ginko meets him as the man is staring out at the beach, waiting for a sign that his wife is still alive, or at the very least a body so he can stop waiting for her. While he tells his tale to Ginko, a few poignant flashbacks are shown.
As it turns out, he married the younger daughter of a (one can assume) wealthy family and ended up dragging her to a remote fishing village. One day, during an argument, the man admits that she is one of the reasons why his company let him go, and that he’s shocked that she followed him out here this far. Hinting that she must have hoped for a better station in life, he tells her that it would probably be better if she just went home. Her stunned reaction is as if he slapped her in the face.
Later, while out at sea, she ends up taking a separate boat from her husband and, due to the mushi phenomenon, her boat loses sight of the shoreline, disappearing completely. He later finds out from Ginko that the fact that she couldn’t see the shore anymore indicated that she didn’t feel like she had a place to return to there. It can be inferred from this that his words played a large part in her inability to see his village as a home.
There’s no doubt that the husband in this situation cared for his wife deeply. His words weren’t said in spite or anger; he probably thought that he was being loving and selfless by letting her go back to the life that he thought she missed so desperately. The catch is that all she probably wanted to hear in those moments was how much he appreciated her presence with him, and how he wanted her to stay.
Sometimes, perhaps, people should be a little more selfish.
6 responses to “All’s Fair in Love and Selfishness Where Sea Meets Man”
A misunderstanding on the husband’s part of what the wife truly desires… As much as it’s about his needing to be a little more selfish, he also needed to believe in her wife’s love a little more–believe that she loves him more than the material things.
The idea that the husband only ever saw his wife’s needs as material things never occurred to me. That a really good catch, Yi. This is especially sad, considering that during the entire exchange, her only concern is with how unfair it was that he lost his job. Not once does she ever mention leaving or wanting anything (although she does disparage the town a bit).
A theme that my lovely viewing partner and I have been discussing (as it seems to be a theme that pops up in nearly everything we’ve watched recently) is the inherently male idea of wanting to provide for their spouse and/or family. I suppose, due to the fact that I’m a bit of a romantic, I would like to believe that part of the disconnect comes from this idea and not that he believed his wife to be only interested in material things. Not only does the husband feel inadequate simply because of the loss of his job, he also feels that, now more than ever, he won’t be able to provide for his wife in the way that her family was able to for the majority of her life. Despite the fact that all she wants is for him to “be there,” he will always be unable to see that, blinded by feelings of inadequacy and his need to provide.
Honestly, it’s a bit hard for me to understand this concept (as it’s a bit antiquated and bullheaded), but possibly this is where much of the disconnect comes from in male/female relationships to begin with. Possibly my viewing partner here could elaborate a bit further… ^ ^
Thank you so much for the comment!
Antiquated, yes. Bullheaded, absolutely. And unfortunately, a very ingrained part of our essences.
I have a theory that’s rather anthropological in origin. Men have a desire to provide, that’s because when we as a species were still hunting and gathering for sustenance, a man’s worth was directly related to his ability to perform during the hunt, and to provide what he accrued for his family. It has been beaten into us to feel this way for so long that anyone who desires to be an upstanding man in society still has these feelings and desires to perform and provide.
Contrast this with woman during the hunter-gatherer age. Her duties were domestic and closer to home, and thus being closer to home she was in an eternal state of hurry up and wait. Having to wait for her partner I can only imagine that if they either were without child or still expecting their first, that the days can become rather lonely. Thus, the idea that the only thing that began to matter to woman in that age was for him “to be there” in the limited amount of time he was present in between hunts may have gestated then.
However I have to caution that I’m no anthropologist and that the above all is speculation on my part. However I’m fond of the idea that we, being the rational beings that we are, were forged as a species in a more uncertain and turbulent time. The result of which being that one of the fundamental aspects of what makes us human, our desire to express our love for each other, is rooted in a very fundamental miscommunication and misunderstanding of the opposite sex.
Love will always be a very close acquaintance with pain and miscommunication, because tragically, that’s how we’re designed.
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One thing that surprised me a lot about this episode was that it was not just a misunderstanding, but a misunderstanding created from good intent. Just based off of interactions with friends and family, there have been too many occasions where my actions just weren’t as well received as I would’ve thought. Comparing to the case that happened in the episode, sometimes trying to be kind by selflessness comes off as cold and uninviting which results in pushing people away. Sometimes, as you said at the end, being “selfish” is something we should do.
Something else that struck me while watching this episode was just how long the husband waited on the beach. Two and a half years is a long time to wait, but what was he waiting for? Common sense would dictate that his wife was gone, but he still unable to stop waiting until he had gotten some indication of her fate. The power of uncertainty is quite strong and often I find it easier to move forward from a bad experience than not knowing how something went (or will go). Because of that it kind of makes sense that the husband sit on the beach and wait until he could confirm his wife’s fate before being able to move forward.
I think that the reason he waited was exactly as you say: because he couldn’t confirm his wife’s death with his own eyes (although logic would dictate that she had died) he continued to search the horizon for her.
Misunderstandings from good intent are the worst.
Thanks for the comment! ^ ^