I’ve been seeing several of these “Motivational Night Vale” photosets going around recently, and while some of it is legitimately inspirational and some of it is weird and sarcastic and some of it is so bizarre it wraps around to being sort of inspirational again, it’s given coherent form to a thing I’ve been thinking a lot about our new favorite podcast.
Welcome to Night Vale is a social satire, a surreal comedy, and a genuinely endearing love story. But the amazing thing about Welcome to Night Vale is, though it’s about a world controlled by an oppressive and erratic government and is full to the brim of existential horror, eldritch monsters, and things that are trying to gruesomely kill you, after the silliness and creepiness and weirdness, just how uplifting it is.
It seems like it shouldn’t be. Two very common themes of the show are “people dying” and “your own insignificance in comparison to the universe”. In fact, I don’t think there’s been a single episode where someone (and usually many many someones) doesn’t die, or where Cecil doesn’t cheerfully philosophize about the universe’s vastness and your own tiny meaninglessness in it. (I also don’t think an episode goes by where he doesn’t use the word “void” at least once.)
And even more than that, while there are so many bizarre fantastical otherworldly things in Night Vale, there are no ghosts. There are no zombies. There is no reincarnation, no reanimation, no influence from beyond the grave. This, I think, is huge. There are sandstorms that create doubles of everyone, and sentient lightning bolts that cause people to grow extra heads, there are floating cats and invisible teleporting clock towers, there are Glow Clouds and Station Management and Street Cleaners. There is a five-headed dragon and a faceless old woman who lives in your home, and they both are considering running for mayor. But there is not, and as far as I can remember aside from Buddy Holly has never been, anything after death. Death is the only thing that works the same in Night Vale as everywhere else - when you die, that’s it. You’re dead, you’re gone, and you’re not coming back.
In Night Vale, death is a lot closer than it is to most of us. In Night Vale, people die left and right, all the time. Night Vale is a place where everyone is fully conscious of their own mortality - Cecil mentions it rather often. Everybody knows that everybody dies, of course, but we don’t like to think about it. Who does? But Welcome to Night Vale forces you to think about it, because it’s set in a town where nobody can know if they’ll live to see tomorrow or if something totally random is going to kill them without any warning or explanation.
And because of that, the takeaway from Welcome to Night Vale is that life is an amazing and wonderful thing, and that just by being alive, just by having survived another day, you - yes, you - are amazing.
Welcome to Night Vale says that the world is strange and beautiful, and that life is strange and beautiful. The world is also scary and dangerous, and life is scary and dangerous, because that’s just how they are and have always been. Both are equally true. So you can either dwell on the fear, or you can accept it, and move on, and focus on the beauty.
Night Vale is a community where, even in the face of impossibility, terror, and death, life goes on. Just by being alive, you have accomplished something wonderful; and even though you may be a small speck in the cold universe, you are still here. And even if the whole universe doesn’t care about you, so what? It would be narcissistic to think it would. The universe itself may not care, but there are people here who love you, and that’s more important, anyway. Welcome to Night Vale is one big bizarre hilarious poetic carpe diem, and a very blunt and lovely matter-of-fact YOLO. You’re going to die someday? So what? Everybody dies. It’s just a part of life. But you’re not dead yet, and at the end of the day, that’s the most important thing there is. You are alive. You have so much possibility. Don’t waste it.
Cecil himself perfectly sums up what I’m trying to say in the closing of episode 24: “If you can hear my voice speaking live, then you know: we are not history yet. We are happening now. How miraculous is that?”
And that’s the point of Night Vale: yeah, what’s out there is mostly void. But it’s also partially stars.
YOU DON’T HAVE YOUR SHIT TOGETHER? SCHOOL, WORK, FUTURE, YOUR FUCKING SELF? DON’T FUCKING WORRY ABOUT IT, IN TIME YOU WILL. AT THE MOMENT YOU MAY NOT BE THE BEST YOU CAN BE AND THAT’S OKAY. MAKE PEACE WITH IT SO YOU CAN MOVE FORWARD. YOU ARE STRONG, BEAUTIFUL, INTELLIGENT AND YOU HAVE SO MANY OTHER QUALITIES THAT WILL GET YOU THROUGH THIS. YOU’RE FUCKING AWESOME AND YOU DESERVE THIS!
WHY DOES NO ONE FREAK OUT OVER COLORS… THERE ARE SO MANY… THEY ARE ALL SO PRETTY… THE UNIVERSE IS CALLED COSMIC LATTE….. THERE ARE SO MANY SHADES OF GREEN… THE SUNSET IS THE COLOR OF THE FEELING YOU GET WHEN YOU SLIDE INTO A WARM BATH….. EVERYONE IS A DIFFERENT COLOR…. YOUR EYES ARE DIFFERENT COLORS…. YOUR RED IS A DIFFERENT RED FROM MY RED… THE WORLD IS SO NICE…. JUST LOOK A LITTLE……
I could swear there are many posts that talk about this but oh well… Anywho…
I really felt the need to discuss this because I have felt like this before. And I know it’s difficult to talk about it out of the fear of being called selfish or “crying for attention”.
I completely disagree. It’s not a matter of acting selfish. Again it’s another self-esteem issue. Let’s face it, low self-esteem is difficult to overcome, despite what some people think.
But it can be helped. We all want to be funny, smart, clever, pretty, talented, and all that jazz. We can be those! It’s totally possible.
Get started now! Learn to laugh and develop your own sense of humor. Be up to date with current events. Dress properly and care about your appearance.
But mind you I never said it was easy or a quick-fix. Everything takes time. I know it’s difficult in this time where we want things instantly. Believe me, I am the most impatient individual. But we just have to wait and keep working.
And popularity should not be your main concern. Yes as an artist we want some recognition, but becoming popular for the sake of being popular is a negative behavior to have.
Go at your own pace. Take it step by step to be become a better individual and a better artist. Make yourself happy and learn to love yourself.
I’m working on that too. In fact I made this advise for myself as well. Everything will get be better. Don’t worry C: