It is no lie that BTS cheers me up. It is no lie that they lift my mood and take me outside my own head, where for the past three year it’s all been gloom and doom most of the time whether I want it or not. They can make me happy, sometimes superficially happy and sometimes a happiness that is deep seethed and soul deep.
For a long time, longer than usual to my normal self I forgot how it felt to laugh. That kind of laughing that makes your cheeks hurt and your belly ache and you can’t breathe and your gums are showing and you want to explain why you’re laughing but you can’t because your brain’s synapses are snapping and collapsing. I missed that laughter in a vague way but I had gotten used to not laughing that way because, honestly, there was nothing to laugh about. Shit was dark.
And then I really started paying attention at Jung Ho-seok (stage name J-Hope) and found my missing laughter. He is not standup comedian. Hobi is the main dancer and one of the rapper of BTS. He has and older sister and mother he adores and I think I can see the positive feminine influences in his life. He is straight forward, unafraid of hard work, patient, kind a cuddle bunny, a scaredy cat and fucking hilarious. Sometimes (the majority of the time?) he is not even trying to be funny but the fates know I have laughed until I cried watching his antics with the other members of the band during the episodes of Run, BTS! Be it getting sprayed with a water gun for saying a crutch word he used all the time without him knowing what the word is (again and again), or bungee jumping, asking Jimin for the thousand time where his wallet is, or doing anything really, there is something contagiously funny about Hobi’s approach to life.
I’m sorry if all the name changes are confusing. At this point I should warn you that all the members of BTS have names, stage names (which in some cases are just their names) and they have nicknames….sooooooo many nicknames. Nicknames related to their names, nicknames related to their stage names, nicknames related to their line of BT21 members animated characters, they have nicknames given by their fans, based on their personal characteristics, on their hobbies..the list is never ending, but I digress.
Watching him dance, laugh, interact with the other guys, or do anything is like having Vicks vapor rub on your chest as a kid. Your mom came in the middle of the night and you couldn’t breathe before but all of the sudden your chest is on fire and it’s all menthol-ly and warm and you can feel your lungs expanding and your nose clearing and your eyes watering.
Hobi is medicine, a medicine I need an overdose of this week. I never imagined I would have to be afraid to walk outside my house because of my skin color, which goes to show the level of blind privilege I had and didn’t know I enjoyed. While mass shootings are a danger every American faces on a daily basis, now the racial implications of the latest one cannot be denied. I don’t need new worries, fears, anxieties, horrors to think about. Yet now, all I can think about it’s having someone kill me at a gas station stop, the library, the supermarket, anywhere…just because I am Latina. I would be so pissed.
What would Hobi do? I think he is scared of heights, amusement park rides, speed, the dark, zombies, scary movies and (many) other things but he is brave when it counts, when it matters the most. He shows his bravery when it means one more try, giving one more chance, dusting yourself off once more and going at it (whatever IT may be) with double the effort. He would be afraid….but he wouldn’t let that stop him.
I think it was Namjoon who said that Hobi mentioned once to him the only place he is never afraid is when he is dancing.
I wish I had something like Hobi’s dancing. A refuge where I am always confident, always in control never doubtful and always hopeful. Where the only rules that apply are gravity and my talent for bending said rule. Books used to be that for me, writing also used to be a safe heaven. But more and more the world and its sheer ugliness creeps in to deal a dose of nasty reality that poisons everything. Not even baby elephant videos are doing the trick.
Hobi chose his stage name as J-Hope because he wanted to be a beacon of hope to his fans and considers his fans hope for him also. Which is why when he introduces himself he ALWAYS says: “I’m your Hope, you’re my Hope, I’m J-Hope” Yes, he is that goddamned precious, he is that much of a ray of sunshine.
And when I am afraid to go outside and I am just so full of fear and so damned angry at what is happening and everyone acting like it’s all in our heads, it makes me want to run to Hobi the most. Because I don’t think he is blindly hopeful. I don’t think he is some Pollyanna. I think Hobi knows perfectly well that the world is ugly, and shit is bleak. He knows how encroaching the darkness can be, how it sometimes feels easier to let it take over because fighting it all the time is so damned exhausting. And everyday he makes the decision to face the world that can be ugly but it doesn’t mean that it has to remain so. He makes the decision to shoot for pretty, shoot for gorgeous, shoot for better than the poison that is corroding everything. Sometimes the arrow may hit the bullseye and sometime it won’t and that’s okay. But he shows me that I can’t stop trying. I can’t give in because then it gets harder and harder to reach for the light, step outside the cave.
I am not going to lie. I look at the news, even when I try not to and my jaw sets until my teeth hurt and my hands clenches until my knuckles are white and my nails are digging half-moons on my palms. I want to rail at everyone. The ones not paying attention, the ones denying that is happening, the ones burying the head in the sand, the ones that have other things to worry about, the ones who don’t give a fuck because the status quo actively benefits them or doesn’t negatively impacts them. I am so angry at every-goddamned-body I feel like screaming and crying and just drinking my weight in wine.
But I don’t and I haven’t and I hope I won’t. So I look at videos of J-Hope, new ones, old ones and remind myself of what he has taught me all these years as his fan. There’s always hope. In the bottom of Pandora’s box left behind to be forgotten there was hope. Myth or truth hope has sustained us through worst. It ain’t easy to hope, but I am going to work at it every day and do like J-Hope and just dance.