A Song That Inspires Courage

I might not have been in this life for particularly long, but I’ve definitely experienced the fear of regular things in life that not only happen all the time, but are things I feel like we shouldn’t even be afraid of. I experienced this same feeling of dread and even despair just this morning, so it’s not exactly the greatest way to start the day. I panicked because after getting paid, I realized I wouldn’t have enough money to pay my phone bill (or anything else) after paying my rent, which was definitely priority number one.

I feel like the reason it hit so hard was because it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. For many of us, 2020 has been a rough year. Things always seem to get worse and worse. It’s been incredibly easy even for me to succumb to the despair of feeling like things can’t get better, and I’ve always been known to be a rather optimistic person. (A little nihilistic as well, but I feel like a small dose of that helps with the optimism.) Just this year alone, I admit that I’ve thought numerous times that it’d be much easier to just die than put up with all of this. The thought of pushing through all the troubles that I just know are ahead almost brings me tears because I know how difficult and painful it will be.

But this morning, after that feeling of panic and dread started, a simple yet beloved song of mine came to mind, and I had to listen to it.

(Here’s to hoping the video isn’t taken down.)

There’s something special about this particular theme, both this version and the original version from the GameBoy. It starts off with the familiar Legend of Zelda main theme, but then breaks off into a new section that I personally feel is even better than the original Zelda theme. Anyone who’s played a Zelda game gets the basic idea of the concept. You play as the young protagonist Link, travel a dangerous world, crawl through dark dungeons, take on huge enemies, solve puzzles, and you save the world. You endure much hardship in these games, but at the end, you never see Link give up. (So long as you play through the whole game, that is.) You see him find a way to keep moving, because he knows as well as you do that it will be worth it in the end to have fought through it all.

Listening to this theme again warmed my heart, reminded me to take a deep breath, and to remember that life is more than the trouble we endure. We have people we care about, we have things we enjoy doing. That’s what life is about, and in the famous words of Talesin Jaffe, life needs things to live. As silly a quote as this was in context, it rings true. We all need each other. And even though we’re in a time of separation right now, we’re still connected even if we don’t know each other.

This theme has reminded me to keep my own courage up. I acknowledge my feelings and concerns, but then I must cast them aside, because if I don’t, how am I supposed to move forward? It’s like my childhood experience with Zelda games. It’d take me years to beat one because I was so afraid of failure that I’d put off taking on the next boss for long amounts of time. I’d still do it, though, because I wanted to see more of the game. I wanted to experience the rest of the game’s world, meet the people who populate it, and see Link come out on top. This same wish applies to my real life. I want to surpass my trials now so I can keep moving forward, to one day see the rest of the incredible world we live in, to meet the wonderful people who live in it, and to eventually see that I might be able to make a career from my writing.

At the end of the day, we are not the same as our problems nor our thoughts. We are ourselves, and we are each strong enough to overcome these struggles. I have faith in myself, and I have faith in you, as you should. Keep going. Fight. Show the same courage our boy in green always has, and I hope you can be proud of yourself for doing so.

(Here’s the GameBoy version if you feel like listening to it.)

Less is More – Why I Love the Music of A Link to the Past

Not gonna lie; this is my favorite Legend of Zelda soundtrack, narrowly beating Link’s Awakening.

A Link to the Past versus Ocarina of Time — a classic tale of clashing fans and grumpy animators. People spend all this time arguing over which one is better, when ultimately, it comes down to preference. As for myself, I’m someone who loves and accepts both fondly. A Link to the Past was the first game in the series that I owned, but as funny as it may be, I actually beat Ocarina of Time long before I beat this one. (As a kid, I sucked at this series; it actually took a bet with my co-author for me to finally beat Ocarina of Time.)

I have a personal connection with A Link to the Past, and here’s why. That game impacted me in a massive way when I was a kid, in a way that still positively affects me even as an adult. That game was the reason why I wanted to become an author in the first place. I loved the magical majesty of the world of Hyrule, the narrative nature of the adventure, and the idea of a young protagonist saving the world. Naturally, considering I was six years old, I was drawn towards the idea of young protagonists saving the world, which was a major building block in what would eventually become my writing career.

Rants aside, the biggest thing that drew me to this incredible game was the soundtrack. Despite knowing the soundtrack consisted of midi instruments, it was magical, especially from the beginning. The music immediately draws you in, from the prologue theme into its shorter leitmotif that plays during the rain scene, and finally, the Hyrule Castle theme.

Still one of my favorite VG tracks of all time.

In my opinion, everything about this track is absolutely perfect. The instrumentation, the progression, and the incredible climax. This song is what defines A Link to the Past for me. As a kid, this song blew my mind. It really made me feel the severity of the situation of infiltrating a castle full of possessed guards. There are so many emotions packed into this song, which is perfect! You traverse this castle, face fearsome foes, and eventually rescue Princess Zelda from the dungeons of the castle, only to find out that your job is far from done.

Fear of the unknown, courage in the face of adversity, urgency in knowing what’s at stake, and triumph over the trials that stand in your way. Those are the emotions I feel from this song, yet when you really listen to it, there are only really five instruments, at least out of what I can hear: a strings section covering both the main melody, background harmonies, and our bass section, a brass section, a triumphant trumpet exchanging the melody with the strings, a trombone (or potentially something else; I wasn’t a band kid, so I’m not too great at identifying brass instruments) harmonizing with the trumpet’s melody in the latter part of the song, and a timpani to convey the heavy feelings all within this song.

Maybe I’m reading into it too much, but you know what? Even if I am, that’s just the way I like it. I love this game’s soundtrack. Every song perfectly conveys the emotions of each location or scene in the game, and even to this day, it still blows my mind. Feel free to let me know what your favorite Legend of Zelda soundtracks are in the comments! I’d love to discuss them, because frankly, I love all of them.