Last night my girlfriend and I caught most of the classic Akira Kurosawa film Ikiru on TMC. I had never seen anything but Dreams and Kurosawa’s Samurai flicks like Seven Samurai, Yojimbo and The Hidden Fortress, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. What I didn’t expect is a psychologically marvelous tale about a man who knows he is about to die, and tries to live life to its fullest in the short time he has left. It is a cautionary tale, warning us to be good people, and to try and do the things that make us feel fulfilled before it is to late.
The main character works as the head of the Public Works department in Japan’s complicated bureaucracy. Trying to get anything done through any department is a joke, as each one passes complaints off to the next. The people there are intentionally doing nothing, and simply trying to hang on to their jobs by being passive. The movie cautions against this, and argues that if you don’t enjoy what you are doing, you’re wasting away what precious time you have left in this life.
At DDA and DDA Medical, I absolutely enjoy what I do. I get to sit down every day and work on a computer, something which I have considered “playtime” ever since I was 10 years old playing games on my first Apple IIe. 3D modeling, 3D animation, 2D Flash animation, and Flash programming are all very game-like to me. That’s a weird statement, I know, so let me explain. In 3D animation, there is always a problem to be solved. Generally, it’s something like; the client needs a specific set of 3D medical models rendered from a certain camera angle under optimal lighting conditions, by a certain time. This is a challenge, and I attack it head on with mouse and keyboard as though I were playing Time Trial mode in a puzzle game. In writing ActionScript for Flash applications, it becomes a word game akin to something you’d find in the newspaper after the funnies. You have a result you are trying to achieve, and you need to find just the right combination of words and symbols that will generate that result. Sure it can be frustrating at times, but it all pays off when you have a working Interactive Flash website that combines streaming video, interactive menus, eye-catching site design, audio elements, striking visual flair, and an innovative user interface.
Pushing polygons is fun to me, and while we all could use more money in this recovering economy, I am grateful to have found something more fulfilling than clinging desperately to a job and wasting life away like Mr. Watanabe in the beginning of Ikiru. If you are looking for an ultimately inspiring tale that makes you appreciate the life you have, even if you aren’t rich and famous, I recommend it!