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In Wednesday’s comic, Lyle espoused the belief that a person or situation only has control over someone who allows that control. It was part of the set-up for a gag, but this was also a case of me speaking through one of my characters. I do think it can be hard to figure out how to pull yourself away from another’s control, especially if the consequences make hits on other things you want–like a steady paycheck and benefits, in Colin’s case–but that there always tends to be some way around, if you can find it, or if you’re willing to sacrifice.

Don’t mean to get all preacherific here. Re-reading that strip just made me think about how Colin’s point of view runs into conflict with an oft-repeated Japanese expression: “Shou ga nai” (sometimes shikata ga nai), which means: “It can’t be helped, there’s no other way.”

I’ve heard that this was a phrase often used in the days after World War II, when Japan, and many of its people’s lives, were in shambles. Rather than wallow in self-pity, folks would shrug and say, “shou ga nai,” and continue on pushing through as best they could. So that’s the positive way to look at the expression, and to use the sentiment.

It’s awfully easy, though, for me–and I imagine lots of other folks–to slide into the negative side of that platitude: “You can’t do anything about it, so don’t even try. Resign yourself to the way things are.” I don’t necessarily think that’s the way the expression was really meant.

So maybe this post is just me reminding myself: There almost always is another way, if you can just find it. Shou ga aru.

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