Babylon 5 = Utterly Epic Perfection
I am just going to admit this up front ... I didn't originally finish watching Babylon 5.
I never watched it when it originally aired, I barely caught it during reruns. I was very late venturing into the Babylon 5 universe, but I did eventually begin the journey. I didn't stop because of boredom or lack of interest or getting too busy watching other things. It wasn't anything like that. I stopped because it became just really too painful for me to endure.
As with any true opera, the range of drama and emotions can be overwhelming at times and you find yourself spiraling out of control within yourself. It can sometimes take so much out of you to continue experiencing it, especially when every part of your being is begging you to stop, to slow down, to turn it off for the sake of your sanity and emotional health. So much of me was wrapped up in the depth and philosophy and lessons of Babylon 5 that I became incapable of falling any further into it without risking myself. It was all too much; losing characters I cared about, being pulled apart by melodramatic circumstances that became, oftentimes, too much for me to handle because many of the characters were far too real, far too close to my heart, and far too much like myself.
Babylon 5 was relentless. JMS (J Michael Straczynski) was relentless. There was no stopping it once it all began and if you couldn't keep up then you might as well have just thrown in the towel. The show was meant to be more than just entertainment, more than just another place to hide yourself from the days events, but a place that forces you to deal with yourself, see the world as you fit into it, and drag you kicking and screaming into philosophical state of awareness that you could not ignore.
The idea was not to present a perfect utopian future, but one with greed and homelessness; one where characters grow, develop, live, and die; one where not everything was the same at the end of the day's events. Citing Mark Twain as an influence, Straczynski said he wanted the show to be a mirror to the real world and to covertly teach.
I hit a point where that state of awareness was strong enough and poignant enough to cause me to question many things about my own life and existence. I began looking inside myself to find my own light - that source of who I was, or thought I was - to examine it, question it, embrace it more than I ever did before. What I found, I didn't like. What I found was barely something I could even define as light. I suppose it would be more accurate to say that I couldn't recognize it as illumination because I didn't have the self-vocabulary to define who I thought I was.
I had been living my life on auto pilot for so long, looking ahead, stumbling through the darkness, just expecting there to be some light at the end of the tunnel. Babylon 5 taught me that we can define our own light, as well as choose our own tunnel, and that while much of who we end up to be is Fate, there is much to discover on the journey to finding our true selves in the vastness of the universe. I became a pioneer of my own life, an excavator of my past and my being, and like an inspired poet and philosopher, I began writing a new tome of what I wanted my life to become.
It is said that the future is always born in pain ... If we are wise, what is born of that pain matures into the promise of a better world, because we learn that we can no longer afford the mistakes of the past.
Sebastian haunted my dreams for months and I couldn't answer him no matter how hard I tried. Who am I? No matter how much I wanted to distance myself from that chamber, from the cadence of his walking stick, from his persistence, I couldn't. There was nowhere to hide from his voice, his questions, his utter wisdom. The more I tried to wake from the dream the more I realized I was already awake, already trapped, already empty. Who was I? I had no idea. Even my name didn't belong to me - does anyones? It all made me so angry, all of these revelations, all of these truths, all of this pain ... it tore me down and down and down again. Hammered me down like a nail. I suppose then the truth of it is that I abandoned Babylon 5 because I had to begin my own ascension, my own walkabout ... my own inquisition.
There was no escaping him; Sebastian. There was no escaping it; Babylon 5. There was no turning away from Universal truth written between the lines. It's only a television show, you'll say. And you're a complete ignorant, closed off, blind idiot, I'll reply. It's a bible for some, a mere road map for others. It's an opera for some, a ballet for others. It's an angel on your shoulder for some, a desperate cry in the night for others. It's a signpost, a wardrobe, a stargate ... It's many things and I assure you, "television show" is the greatest insult ever given to something of Babylon 5's caliber. You should be ashamed.
It's been many years now since Babylon 5 aired, many years since the reruns were on television, many years since it won Emmys, Hugos, and Saturn awards, many years since anyone really took a hard look at it, revisited it, and wrote on it. I want to. I want to because I think, at this point in my life, I need to. I've come a long, long way since Babylon 5 rewired the way I saw myself, my place in the universe, the universe itself, and the people around me. I've evolved in ways I cannot begin to describe in words and because of that, I want to finish what I started. I want to finish what I originally couldn't out of fear, confusion, and even shame.
So much has been lost, so much forgotten. So much pain, so much blood. And for what, I wonder. The past tempts us, the present confuses us, and the future frightens us. And our lives slip away, moment by moment, lost in that vast terrible inbetween. But there is still time to seize that one last fragile moment. To choose something better, to make a difference, as you say. And I intend to do just that.
Maybe I have something to prove still. Maybe I still hear Sebastian talking to me from the screen as if he could see right into my heart. Maybe, somewhere deep down, I fear I have not evolved as much as I thought. Maybe, with everything that has happened in my life the past few years, I am weak and I need more guidance. Regardless of the reasons - of which I am sure there are plenty - I feel a pull back to that station, that haven, that last and best hope for peace. Perhaps it's my own peace I seek now, a settling of my past, of my mistakes, a final pass to wipe out who I once was and never wish to be again. There is always more to learn, always more to realize about yourself, always more to carve away, and always more seeds to plant anew.
It's all so brief, isn't it? Typical human lifespan is almost a hundred years, but it's barely a second compared to what's out there. It wouldn't be so bad if life didn't take so long to figure out. Seems you just start to get it right and then ... it's over."
I think, if I'm being honest with myself, that I need a little magic again in my life. Even though I have evolved, I feel lately that I'm right on the cusp of something but I cannot seem to break over the edge of it. Back in the day, when I least expected it, Babylon 5 yanked me out of my life, skinned me alive, and left me bleeding at the bottom of a pit of darkness. The experience was much like a rape of senses, pulling me out of myself, forcing me to face myself, remake myself, and crawl my way back to the surface of my life. It was what I needed. It made me stronger. It opened my eyes and suddenly everything began to make sense and I walked three feet above mundacity from then on. I need strength again. I need to find my way again. I want twelve feet, twenty even.
If I take a lamp and shine it toward the wall, a bright spot will appear on the wall. The lamp is our search for truth, for understanding. Too often, we assume that the light on the wall is God, but the light is not the goal of the search, it is the result of the search. The more intense the search, the brighter the light on the wall. The brighter the light on the wall, the greater the sense of revelation upon seeing it.
I look forward to revisiting what is one of the most epic, poignant, relevant, innovative, beautiful and soul stirring stories ever told. I hope that I can introduce Babylon 5 to a whole new group of people that don't know about it (my God, is that even possible?), didn't get a chance to see it (you should make the time), or who just haven't been exposed to anything but garbage science fiction (I feel sorry for you). Ultimately though, for myself, I hope to find new questions, new insight, and new levels of evolution on this journey. It will be my honor to record my thoughts and the lessons I learn here in this blog for people to revisit, consider, and hopefully gain insight from for a long time.